Monday, August 24, 2009

“You Share, We Care”

Speech by Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun on
Launch of Women and Children Aid Bureau of Wanita MCA (WCAB) Counselling Room
@ 23 Aug 2009
Opening of Women & Children Aid Counselling Room by YB Dato' Sri Ong Tee Keat.
Signing of MOU with WAO, AWAM, LifeLine, Mitraline and Selangor Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall
Group photo of all State WCAB (Women & Children Aid Bureau) representatives.
(photos by CFL)
A very good Sunday morning to all of you. On behalf of Wanita MCA, I thank all of you for taking time off this beautiful Sunday morning to be with us to witness the launch of a para-counselling centre here on the 7th floor of MCA Headquarters.

Counselling centres play a pivotal role in societies particularly for individuals and families who are overwhelmed by challenges in their life. As such, counselling centres may very well serve as a support net in assisting individuals and families in distress deal with their pressing concerns. However, in reality where there is a generally lack of qualified and professionally trained counsellors.

To date, we have 1621 registered counsellors nationally. A large proportion of the registered counsellors in Malaysia are civil servants working with the government namely as teacher counsellors in schools, or under the Welfare Department or better known as the Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (JKM).

Thus, para-counselling centres may be able to cast a wider net and effectively reach out to a more extensive target group. Even though para-counsellors may not be officially registered or trained systematically professional counsellors, para-counsellors nonetheless play an instrumental role as a frontliner who contribute in terms of providing timely and preliminary para-counselling services to the public.

Given that most counselling units of NGOs are generally centred in urban areas, which may not be accessible to most, thus it is the aspiration of this Women and Children Aid Bureau (WCAB) of Wanita MCA to fill in the lacuna of few support services particularly in rural areas.

Recognising that women and children form essential parts of a family unit thus it is paramount that rights and interests are protected and promoted, Wanita MCA Selangor since 30 April 2006 has trained more than a hundred para-counsellors and established seventeen (17) para-counselling units in 17 divisions out of total 22 divisions across the state of Selangor. Equipped with the mission to empower women to make informed decisions in order to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life, these para-counselling units aim to provide para-counselling services to support women and children in need.

Following a few successive years of operation and driven by the motivation to expand such services to other states where there is a generally lack of counselling centres, Wanita MCA once again commissioned a professional counsellor-training organisation to equip our para-counsellors with necessary skills and knowledge. Recently there are another 100 over para counsellors completed a four one-day sessions conducted by LifeLine Association Malaysia in the span of four months. The sessions conducted include an initial session on self-exploration, followed by a couple of sessions on basic counselling skills training and lastly, a practical training session where para-counsellors put to test what they have learned in the role-playing session in the presence of a trainer consultant.

Recognising the need for a systematic and professional training programme in ensuring the provision of effective and efficient services to women and children in need, we will continue to train our para-counsellors. Even though a batch of para-counsellors may have “graduated” from recent intensive para-counselling sessions, we recognise that there may be limitation particularly in terms of lack of experience and also the fact that they are not “expert” and “professional counsellors”.

As such, we need help from others. We need to network with others, with you. We are really grateful that so many organisations which provide counselling services are willing to collaborate with us. WAO, AWAM, LifeLine, Mitraline and Selangor Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall are here with us for the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony for a partnership in extending timely, appropriate and quality services to women and children in need.

Given invaluable support from our soon to be partners, we can proudly announce that we are ready to serve women and children in the community. After today’s launch, we will set up counselling rooms in all the other states soon. If you refer to our leaflet, counselling hours for each counselling centre across other states have been scheduled and will be operating nationwide very soon.

I would like to thank Ms Chew Lee Geok- the Chief of the Women and Children Aid Unit (WCAU) of Wanita Selangor and presently the Chief of Women and Children Aid Bureau (WCAB) at the national level for her tireless effort in putting all this together. My thanks also to the committee members- Ivy Lim, Serene Ting, Lee Shook Fong, Mei Fong, Wong Ngan, ­Wong Siau Ying, Siew Jing and those who help for their hardwork. My apologies if I have left out any names but all in all, thanks for all your contribution.

Also, would like to extend special thanks to Ms Leong Huey Mei, a clinical psychologist and our trainers who conducted a series of training for Wanita Selangor in 2006. She has been extremely instrumental in helping us set up all the para-counselling rooms in Selangor. We would also like to thank Xu Dan Ping, Li Zhi Xiang and all the trainer/ facilitators who trained our pool of para-counsellors.

The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development recognises the need of counselling services, in fact all the 3 main agencies under the ministry namely JPW, LPPKN and JKM have their own counsellors throughout the country. We are going to further strengthen the services through consultative dialogue and expansion of services. These are in the pipeline at the moment, however we need concerted effort from all parties to ensure provision of effective and quality services to the public.

Lastly, For your information, the Women and Children Aid Unit (WCAU) which was set up to support women and children through the provision of para-counselling services is in line with the 7 Directions and 5 Plans of Wanita MCA. In accordance to the 5th plan of Action of Wanita MCA, WCAB sets out to fulfil professionalization of the core missions of women.

Thank you for joining us once again. Together we shall continue to provide services to help women and children make informed choices to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life. Thank you.

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