This week we publish the remainder of the thirteen draft objectives as suggested by members of Legislative Council:
9. Care of the elderly
Low birth rates and the emigration of many younger Saints means that the island’s population is ageing. It also means that more elderly people may be left without younger relatives to look after them in old age. With an expanding retired population comes a social responsibility to provide adequate care of the elderly. Improved access (especially air access) may help to reverse the outflow of younger members of the population. Subsequent improvements in economic performance should lead to more funds being available for pension and benefit provision as well as improved day-care facilities.
Opening up work opportunities for those over 60s who wish to work is also an important aspect of giving people choice during their retirement.
10. Reduce all forms of local deprivation
There are three main aspects of relieving deprivation. Firstly, giving people the opportunity of earning a reasonable income to support themselves and their family. This includes adequate pension provision for retirement.
Secondly, aiming to provide adequate social and public services to ensure a reasonable standard of living. The main areas here are health, education, transport and local amenities.
Finally, where individuals, either through age or disability, are unable to support themselves, then the Government should provide an effective safety net to guard against deprivation.
11. Strengthening links with the mother country, Overseas Territories, the Commonwealth and internationally
Although physically isolated, the island need not exist in social or economic isolation. There is much to be gained by strengthening overseas links in terms of trade partnerships, cultural awareness, as well as raising the international profile of St Helena.
A number of St Helenians are working overseas and the restoration of British Citizenship means that Islanders can go in and out of countries within the European Union as they please.
The British Government has given its support to constitutional development that meets the wishes of the people of St Helena. Through organised visits Councillors meet their UK counterparts and attend Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conferences.
St Helena remains heavily dependent on the UK for financial aid and in the White Paper, Partnership for Progress and Prosperity, the British Government has given a commitment to assisting the Overseas Territories.
St Helena benefits from several forms of donor funding including funds from DFID, the European Union and the United Nations and this contributes in a positive way towards the Island’s economy especially through development projects.
12. Promote and develop social policies to the benefit of society on St Helena
The key is in giving people the opportunity to enjoy a better quality of life. Not only does the Government have an important role to play in helping to provide public facilities, but it should also help and guide individuals to act as responsible citizens. Community schemes and cultural activities should be supported, whilst improving the provision of sports and leisure facilities. There are a number of successful sports organisations on the Island and also a number of uniformed organisations that make a valuable contribution particularly to the development of our young people.
The New Horizons Youth Project Memorandum once approved and implemented will improve the health and well-being of the Island’s young people and improve their social life. St Helena also participates in the Island and Commonwealth Games and the National Amateur Sports Association together with St Helena and Island Games Association play an active role in sports development on the Island as does the Education Department.
13. Protect and cherish the culture of the island
St Helena benefits from a strong sense of community and national identity. Although it is healthy for society to evolve, it is also important not to lose sight of the island’s heritage and culture.
Numerous non-government organisations play an important role in the promotion of the Island’s culture. The Tourist Office encourages the production of local crafts and seeks to raise awareness of St Helena’s cultural heritage. The St Helena Heritage Society, a voluntary organisation, has been functioning for many years and the new St Helena Museum together with the SHG Archives play a vital role in preserving artefacts and records of the past, which make up the Island’s history. Finally the newly formed National Trust will also give support across a wide range of issues.
Public Relations/Information Office
Office of the Chief Secretary
19 December 2002