Foreign migrants may be able to get assistance in adapting to the local culture and way of life as the government is planning to start a special social service for them, the head of the Social Welfare Bureau’s (IAS) department responsible for family and community support services, Au Chi Keung, told reporters Sunday.
Au made the comment after attending an event organised by the Macau General Union of Neighbourhood Associations (Kai Fong). The event aimed to promote care for new immigrants from the mainland.
Au said that the city’s immigration statistics had changed a lot since the 1999 handover, after which more and more foreign migrants arrived.
Au acknowledged that there was a lack of social services for non-Chinese speaking migrants.
“A trial scheme for family services for foreign migrants will be launched in two to three years”, Au said, noting that professionals who have both relevant qualifications and a high proficiency of English would provide such family counselling services.
Both migrant workers from the mainland and foreign countries find it hard to integrate into local society, Hong Wai Tong, director of the Kai Fong Iao Hon Community Centre, said.
According to Hong, new immigrants from the mainland usually find it difficult to assimilate into local society, find job and settle down here because of the high property prices as they are not eligible for public housing.
Since a specialist team to assist new immigrants from the mainland was set up by Kai Fong in 1999, Hong noticed that many newcomers face language problems mainly as they come from non-Cantonese speaking provinces, adding that even the ones who come from Guangdong also find it hard to read traditional Chinese characters which are more complicated than the simplified ones used in the mainland.
In addition, their children also face problems at school as they need to catch up with the level of English taught in local schools.
In response to these issues, the service team has been providing tutorials for general subjects and various English classes.
The service team only provides assistance to those who have been in Macau for less than three years.
Hong further noted that immigrants also face housing problems since the government’s social housing and home-ownership schemes are only open for permanent residents.(macaunews)