Collaborative Knowledge Exchange: 3rd Child Issue Forum

On 13 and 14 November 2015 we co-hosted the 3rd Children’s Issues Forum in collaboration with the Faculty of Law of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Family Law Association, and the Law Society of Hong Kong (with support from the Hong Kong Bar Association). The purpose of the present Forum (and the previous two Children’s Issues Forums) is to highlight legal and related issues affecting children both in Hong Kong and globally and to advocate multidisciplinary reform of the law and policy relating to children and family justice generally. After a welcome from the Deans of the HKU and CUHK Law Faculties, Professor Gane and Professor Hor, The Hon Chief Justice Mr Geoffrey Ma Tao-li opened the Forum noting the importance of protecting the best interests of children, and the role of law in doing so, especially as they are often amongst the most vulnerable members of our society.

During the course of the 3rd Forum held at CUHK, a packed conference hall heard over 40 speakers address child related topics as diverse as child custody, the Family Court’s innovative Children Dispute Resolution procedure, perspectives on representing children in legal proceedings, frontline workers’ experiences in addressing children’s issues and the need for accurate and sustained data collection to inform the creation and implementation of effective policies on children’s issues.  

Speakers from Hong Kong included members of the Judiciary, barristers and solicitors, medical professionals, academics and also social workers, therapists and representatives from NGOs. Importantly for a conference on children’s issues, young people from Kids’ Dream, one of the first children-led NGOs in Hong Kong, also took part in various panels during the Forum.  Speakers from overseas included senior judiciary from England, Australia, Singapore, Macau and Canada; lawyers from the UK and the PRC; academics from Japan, Singapore, Norway and Israel; and the Asia regional representative of UNICEF. For more information on the programme and speakers, please go to

During the first panel of the Forum, the Secretary of State for Labour & Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung GBS JP announced – for the first time in public – the imminent publication of the long awaited Children’s Bill and the government’s commitment to set aside resources to ensure the successful implementation of the practical infrastructure necessary to support the legislative changes, including the establishment of supervised contact centres. Mr Cheung confirmed that the Children’s Bill will be released by the end of November. This reform is something which had been discussed and advocated at the previous two Children’s Issues Forums in 2009 and 2012 so we were delighted that the Secretary for State chose to make this announcement at the 3rd Children’s Issues Forum in the presence of the HK media.

The conference organisers now look forward to receiving the Children’s Bill and to continuing the progress towards legislative and practical reforms, particularly the creation of a Children’s Commission, to ensure that Hong Kong children enjoy the best child law possible.

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