ICSW SEAP joins the 12th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum on Social Welfare and Development

from Global Newsletter - October 2017

Members and officers of the ICSW SEAP participated in the 12th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum on Social Welfare and Development, held last 17 October 2017 at Yangon, Myanmar. The theme of the forum was “Strengthening Social Protection to Address Challenges of Ageing Societies”. The forum is held annually and seeks to increase and strengthen cooperation between ASEAN region governments and civil-society organizations in establishing joint projects. Attended by 80 delegates from governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from ASEAN member countries, the event was opened by Union Minister of Myanmar Dr. Win Myat Aye, who delivered the Welcome Address. In his speech, the Union Minister underscored the importance of social protection schemes and encouraged inclusive discussion on social protection issues in the context of the priority theme of the Forum. He also invited the participants from the ASEAN member countries to share best practices and lessons learned regarding the implementation of existing commitments.

During the workshop session, the NGO participants shared constructive models of partnership between governments and NGOs in addressing issues relating to the expansion of social protection policies and programs for the ageing population and how these can be further enhanced. The discussion revealed the growing importance of finding effective solutions to the social protection of older persons in the region, as well as the rich menu of existing approaches.

ICSW SEAP consolidated and presented in the plenary session the outputs of the workshops. It also presented the conclusions of the national seminar in Kuala Lumpur highlighting various approaches adopted by NGOs in partnership with their respective governments to address the opportunities and challenges of ageing. Specifically, Malaysia’s Home-Help model highlighted the government’s support in funding training programs for NGO volunteers to effectively conduct care services in the homes of the elderly. The NGOs were enlisted to run the center activities for the older persons built by the Government of Brunei Darussalam. Thailand representatives shared some results of setting-up a training center for regular training courses for older persons that will allow them to enhance their skills and knowledge in their efforts to find gainful employment. Indonesia has embarked on a Social Welfare Insurance scheme where the government pays NGOs to mobilize their people in the provinces and remote islands to collect data, monitor implementation and carry out evaluation on ageing population research. International NGO--HelpAge International has extended support in a home-care program for the elderly in Cambodia, while support for social work case management aimed at helping ageing groups in Myanmar was carried out in partnership between the government and the alliance of NGOs. Singapore highlighted their Helping Hands approach, where the government provides funding for a number of NGO initiatives for older persons, as well as extending technical support. The intergenerational approach with older persons has helped empower the senior citizens in the country. Philippines shared the fact that NGOs are part of the process in reviewing and monitoring government budget spending.

Sustainable funding for NGOs has been a constant challenge in their efforts to carry out effective programs for the ageing population, and support from the government in that connection has been deemed crucial. National Integrated Social Protection Programs have a big impact on the well-being of family units, and budget financing of the system is vital. This evidence-based conclusion was reflected in the key recommendations by NGOs to policy-makers. Capacity-building for NGOs is also needed to empower NGOs in their advocacy work, and all agreed that the NGOs must be engaged in the formulation of a regional plan of action on any ASEAN-related Declaration on Ageing Population or Older Persons.