Video: Minister Roban & Minister Furbert

November 14, 2022 | 0 Comments

[Updated] Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban and Minister of Social Development and Seniors Tinee Furbert are holding a press conference this morning [Nov 14] to discuss the 2022 Throne Speech initiatives. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the replay is below

Update 3.00pm: Minister Furbert’s remarks:

Good day Bermuda,

I am delighted to join you today to share more about the work the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors will focus on during this parliamentary session.

2022 Speech from the Throne

As outlined in the 2022 Speech from the Throne, the Government, in partnership with SafeLives UK, will introduce a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference [MARAC] model in which all necessary agencies are engaged in a more coordinated plan of action to manage the conduct of perpetrators and provide protection for victims of domestic violence.

The COVID-19 pandemic magnified the unfortunate fact that economic stresses lead to increased social dysfunction and domestic abuse, and family violence in some extreme cases.

A Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference, a MARAC, is a meeting in which representatives from critical agencies share information on the highest-risk domestic abuse cases. Representatives such as:

  • The police, child protection, housing, health, domestic violence practitioners, probation, and other specialists from the public and private sectors relevant to the case at hand

The primary focus of a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference, a MARAC, is to use all relevant information to discuss options to create a coordinated action plan to safeguard the adult victim and children where applicable. It will also connect with other agencies to manage the perpetrator’s behavior.

I am pleased to share that the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors, the Bermuda Police Service, and the Centre Against Abuse, in partnership with SafeLives UK, who are specialists in domestic violence, have already commenced this collaborative initiative.

Bermuda will be the first country to implement a MARAC outside the 270-plus existing conferences across England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

At the heart of a MARAC, as defined by SafeLives UK, is the working assumption that no single agency or individual can see the complete picture of a victim’s life, but all may have insights crucial to their safety.

Our efforts will focus on a National cross-Ministry and Agency approach to increase public awareness of the damaging effects of domestic abuse and family violence on the island’s public health and improve the island’s systemic response to domestic abuse and family violence.

Bermuda remains committed to ending domestic violence, and establishing our own MARAC is vital to safeguard our people. It will also strengthen our commitment to the UK Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW].

This is growth in a positive direction for Bermuda and on behalf of the Government of Bermuda, thank you to the agencies working alongside us to implement this vital resource.

We understand the importance of all agencies working together for a common cause and goal, as addressing the safety of domestic violence victims requires a coordinated approach.

2021 Speech from the Throne

As we continue the work to progress this initiative forward, we will keep the public informed on our progress.

At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to provide progress updates of previous Ministry of Social Development and Seniors Throne Speech Initiatives made over the past legislative year.

Amending the Senior Abuse Register Act 2008

Initial amendments to the Senior Abuse Register Act have been identified.

During the past year, Ageing and Disability Services, which falls under the remit of the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors, commenced engagement with key stakeholders such as the banks and the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee.

Their focus has been on improving the reporting, investigation, and protection of seniors from financial exploitation within the current legislative framework and using existing resources

The Ministry has also hosted radio and online talk shows identifying solutions to protect seniors from financial abuse.

To protect seniors against the growing prospect of financial abuse, our Ministry is aware that more substantial protection is needed. This will require further development, and the work will continue as we look into key resources such as the Office of the Public Guardian.

Developing a Formal Register of Persons with Disabilities

The Ministry has been diligently working to finalize a consultation paper on introducing a formal register of persons with disabilities.

We have done extensive research on what databases currently exist in Bermuda that collects data on persons with disabilities and on other jurisdictions that have successfully established registers for persons with disabilities.

In 2023, the public consultation will commence. The purpose is to consult with the general public on the feasibility of establishing a National Disability Registry; recognizing the views of persons who have a disability, and those who are parents/guardians of persons with disabilities and whether they would utilize the registry, is critically important to advancing this initiative.

The Government remains committed to ensuring that all men, women, and children with disabilities have the easiest access to services and assistance for enhancing their lives.

A National Disability Register will assist in identifying which essential services and the extent of the services required by those living with disabilities in Bermuda.

Strengthening Child Safeguarding

During the past year, the Department of Child and Family Services undertook intentional actions to strengthen child safeguarding and reduce children’s harm, abuse, and distress in Bermuda.

Some of the work includes:

  • The Counselling and Life Skills and Assessment Unit within the Department of Child and Family Services have looked into and engaged in specialized assessment and treatment training for child victims and child offenders of sexual abuse.
  • Litigation Guardians were selected, appointed, and trained. The primary purpose of a Litigation Guardian is to inform the court about the child’s voice and their professional analysis of what needs to happen going forward to guarantee that child’s safety and well-being.
  • National Child Safeguarding Committee, which the Department of Child and Family Services is a part of, is developing a National Child Safeguarding Policy that is anticipated to be released in 2023.

The committee seeks to coordinate the Government’s response to child safeguarding by drawing on cross-department knowledge, skills, and expertise to develop an effective multi-agency working to safeguard children from all forms of abuse through comprehensive policies.

Independent Living Programme

The Department of Child and Family Services has also undertaken the establishment of Bermuda’s first Independent Living Programme for children who have turned 18 years old and are no longer under the care of the System.

This programme will provide housing, intensive support, and guidance to our young adults, so that they may become successful and productive citizens.

I am happy to share the progress that has been made with respect to preparations for occupancy:

  • The Independent Living Coordinator, who will oversee the programme, has successfully completed a certification as an Independent Living Specialist with the Daniel Memorial Institute. The Daniel Memorial Institute is an organization that promotes best practices and innovations in Foster Care, Adoption, and Independent Living
  • Independent Living Support Staff will be participating in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Families [TCIF] training next week to better equip them when working with young people and their families to achieve positive outcomes
  • A suitable multi-purpose facility has been identified, and the Department of Child and Family Services will continue the work necessary to ensure the facility is safe for occupancy
  • Additional Town Hall meetings have been scheduled with relevant stakeholders and community partners for this week

The Ministry is very much pleased with the work being done to establish the Independent Living Programme and anticipates it will serve our young adults well in the coming months.

The Ministry has also focused on:

  • Dementia care services
  • Outreach to Non-Profit Organizations to ensure their awareness of their risks and how to mitigate them
  • Opportunities to provide a platform for gender affairs
  • Human Right Act Amendment to the definition of family status
  • The awareness of parents, guardians, family members, and people who interact with children of the services, support, and activities that are available in the community; such as the

Nurturing our Nation: Imperfect Parenting Series which focuses on educating primary caregivers and assisting them by providing practical solutions such as coping and parenting skills. This has been done through a series of live-stream panel discussions, focus groups, and a parenting expo.

The topics of discussion have been Boundaries, the Effects of Bullying and Domestic Violence on Children, Co-Parenting and Nurturing Parents, Personal Care and Wellness, and Nutrition and Meal Planning.

The Parenting Expo, which will be an annual event, took place this past Thursday, November 10th, saw over 30 organizations come together on the Front Lawn of City Hall to provide information on:

  • Community Programmes
  • Child Development Support and Services
  • Mental Health Support and Services
  • Parent and Education Support
  • Extra-Curricular Activities

Conclusion

Bermuda, the Mission of the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors is to protect all individuals during their lifetime and facilitate their well-being.

During this legislative year, I look forward to continuing the work to ensure that social policies and services are in place to protect, assist, inform, and empower the most vulnerable within our community.

Thank you for listening, Bermuda; at this time, I welcome questions from the media.

Minister Roban’s remarks:

Good day to members of the media and the listening public. Thank you for your attendance and for watching this Press Conference.

Following the November 5th Speech from the Throne, I am excited to be here today to share with you the Ministry of Home Affairs’ priorities over the upcoming parliamentary session. The Ministry of Home Affairs remains committed to plans and initiatives that will protect our environment and encourage the growth and development of green initiatives.

To that end, and as stated in the Speech from the Throne, over the upcoming session, the Ministry of Home Affairs will focus on introducing:

  • A Bill Reducing Single-Use Plastics;
  • Amendments to the Clean Air Act;
  • A Marine Development Act; and,
  • Amendments to the Electricity Act 2016.

Bill Reducing Single-Use Plastics

The Government has undertaken many consultations on the topic of eliminating single-use plastics with the public, including importers, retailers and grocers, the hospitality sector and groups that have been advocating for the elimination of single-use plastics. Representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Public Works, together with various community stakeholders, held five public information sessions, with some 250 persons registering for the presentations. Also, the consultation page on the Government of Bermuda Citizens Forum received the third-highest public response regarding ideas generated and the fifth-highest number of participants, with nearly sixty unique respondents.

During the consultation period, the Ministry engaged with hundreds of persons, and I sincerely thank all of Bermuda for their interest and participation in this critical conversation.

Having analysed the feedback, the results from the public consultations leave no doubt. A large majority, some three-quarters of the respondents, support the policy to regulate single-use plastics in Bermuda.

And so, as announced in the Throne Speech, The Government will introduce a Bill to reduce single-use plastics. We will take a phased approach, with the first phase beginning this session.

As we move forward with legislating single-use plastics, we will ensure the most positive impact on the environment and human health whilst simultaneously minimising any adverse economic effects.

We are aware of the need to:

  • Ensure that the phase-out periods are realistic;
  • Clearly communicate the legislated requirements;
  • Make allowances for some single-use plastic items that do not currently have alternatives; and,
  • Allow exemptions for medical and other uses.

Further public consultations will occur. These include meeting with and sharing the draft legislation with those most affected, such as grocery stores, importers, restaurants, caterers, retail outlets, and those in the hospitality industry to obtain their feedback. We will also explore how the Government can help businesses manage the move away from single-use plastic. Considerations include altering import tariffs to minimise economic impacts. At the same time, we will continue public education campaigns designed to support the behavioural changes required from all of us.

Amendments to the Clean Air Act

In line with protecting our environment from single-use plastics, we must also work to ensure that the air we breathe is safe.

Initially developed in 1993, Bermuda’s Clean Air Act used concentration limits based on international data available, at that time, on the known health effects on people, including respiratory and cardiovascular effects, such as asthma at that time. The island’s outside air quality continues to be monitored to these standards.

In the thirty years since drafting these Regulations, understanding the health effects of air contaminants from combustion-engine sources has been refined. Air quality standards created more recently in overseas jurisdictions are typically more stringent than those used in Bermuda. Additionally, other than as a nuisance under the Public Health Act 1949, offensive odours under current legislation are not adequately covered.

The Department frequently responds to odour complaints by the public caused by licensed facilities, such as spray paint booths, the BELCO electrical generators, sewage treatment plants, large fuel storage areas, Southside crematorium, Marsh Folly compost facility and, although rarely, Tynes Bay Waste to Energy Facility.

Amendments to the Clean Air Act will update and introduce new measures to address air quality standards that align with the UK and EU, based on the latest health and safety data on the exposure of air contaminants to humans. They will also introduce measures to minimise as much as practicable the impact that nuisance odours have on the general public, especially those in residential areas.

Marine Development Act

Now the public will know my passion for protecting the environment. I have spoken on initiatives that protect and improve our land and air. Now I wish to expand on the Marine Development Act, beginning with what has become my favourite quote on the topic.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

With that in mind, the public will be aware of the extensive consultation on the Draft Blue Prosperity Plan that started on September 12th and continues to be progressed by the Bermuda Ocean Prosperity Programme.

Originally scheduled to end on November 12th, the consultation period was extended to December 31st, 2022, to give the public and key stakeholder groups more time to understand and provide feedback on how the Plan will shape the economic and environmental decisions around Bermuda’s marine environment.

Thus far, the information collected from the public consultation period has helped refine the Draft Plan to ensure it achieves the social, economic, and environmental impacts that matter to the people of Bermuda.

In support of this, the Government will table legislation providing the framework for managing the Marine Spatial Plan and introduce the governance structure of the Blue Economy Fund. This fund will also provide the investment model for the Green Energy Fund, which will be the source for the introduction of Community Solar.

Amendments to the Electricity Act 2016

Community Solar will be a smaller version of utility solar and will not usually require licences from the Regulatory Authority. It will serve as an investment vehicle and provide entrepreneurial and solar installer job opportunities for Bermudians.

Community Solar through the Green Energy Fund will not only fund the solar installations throughout our community, provide dividends to investors but, perhaps most importantly, benefit those families that cannot afford to invest in the installation of the projects. Amendments to the Electricity Act 2016 will allow the launch of this exciting new and innovative framework.

Conclusion

I look forward to the successful implementation of these initiatives, and I am confident in the opportunities and improved standard of life they will provide to the people of Bermuda.

Thank you.

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