4.6 Access to quality services
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A number of housing services and initiatives are offered through the Housing Authority from which young people may directly or indirectly benefit. Some of these schemes and services offered by the Housing Authority include:
- A grant to assist with the Construction and/or completion or rehabilitation of a first dwelling
- Installation of lifts in Government owned blocks to render them more accessible
- Rent subsidy to tenants on rents paid for their ordinary residence leased from the private sector
- Scheme for persons with disability to provide financial aid and technical advice to persons with disability to carry out adaptation works related to their disability in their residence
- Sir Sid Darek to encourage residents of apartments/terraced houses and maisonettes owned by the Housing Authority and the Government Property Department to become owner occupiers and continue using the property as their ordinary residence
- Subsidy for adaptation works in owner occupied, privately rented or government rented residences. Landlords of private dwellings rented to tenants can apply for assistance to eliminate dangerous structure only and on just one property. This aid helps to render premises in a habitable and acceptable standard
- Young people were enabled to become home-owners through, for example, the First Time Buyers Stamp Duty Relief Scheme whereby first time buyers can benefit up to €5,000 in stamp duty on the purchase of immovable property.
Malta also provides a number of special housing facilities and residential settings for children and young people at risk of social exclusion, particularly those requiring out-of-home care. Aside from a number of residential homes for children, such as the Crèche run by the Ursuline Sisters, there are also a number of residential facilities for adults and young people which include:
Fejda provides shelter and a safe environment for female adolescents who suffer from emotional and/or behavioural difficulties
Dar Osanna Pia provides professional intervention and shelter for young men aged 18 years old and over who are experiencing various forms of crises and social difficulties
Dar Niki Cassar welcomes homeless young people
Suret il-Bniedem Foundation offers holistic residential care through its four homes. Dar Tereza Spinelli welcomes homeless, single women, girls aged between 15 and 18 and women with children
Dar Patri Leopoldo welcomes homeless men and boys
Dar Victoria and Dar Franġisk welcome people who suffer from mental health problems
Appoġġ agency also provides residential care to children and young people in need by offering a therapeutic programme to cater for children and young persons who require semi-secure residential accommodation, and providing adequate placements for children and young people who require out-of-home care and experience socio-emotional difficulties
Sapport agency provides various residential facilities for persons with disability as well as a temporary residential programme to support these young people in their transitional phase to more permanent accommodation.
Malta offers a number of social benefit provisions and in-kind which directly or indirectly assist young people experiencing poverty and social exclusion. The main social benefit provisions and in-kind benefits include:
Social assistance is provided to each person aged 18 years old or over, who being a head of household who is deemed unfit for employment due to physical or mental illness; being a single parent or separated person who is unemployed because of family responsibilities; being a single person living alone or with anyone else not being his/her parents who is unemployed due to illness and; or persons considered as being unable to enter the labour market by the Jobsplus, Malta’s Public Employment Service.
In addition, persons in receipt of social assistance are entitled to an energy benefit, while those living in privately rented accommodation are also entitled to a rent allowance.
Persons who are 16 years of age or over, registered under Part 1 of the Jobsplus and who satisfy a minimum of 50 paid social security contributions from their first date of employment and an average of 20 contributions in the two years prior to date of registering as unemployed, are entitled to unemployment benefit. This benefit is intended to be a short-term measure lasting for a maximum period of 156 days while a person is actively seeking employment. Following this period, the unemployed person may apply for long-term social assistance in the form of unemployment assistance which is means tested. In order to qualify once again for unemployment benefit, the person has to work for 91 continuous days (13 weeks) beginning from the 156th day of his/her previous unemployment benefit entitlement.
Unemployment benefit, which is not means tested, is flat rated and subject to a yearly percentage raise according to the cost of living allowance (COLA) granted in the national annual budget. Entitlement to this benefit is calculated on a six day week basis.
No benefits are allocated personally to unemployed persons of less than 18 years of age. Young people benefit from social welfare benefits through custodial care benefits, such as children’s allowance, disabled child allowance and foster care allowance, which are paid up to the age of 16 years old. Young people aged 16 years old and over who are certified by a Medical Panel appointed by the Ministry for the Family, Children's Rights and Social Solidarity as suffering from a disability as listed in the Social Security Act Chapter 318 (section 27) are entitled to a disability pension (14 years old in the case of people who are visually impaired). As from January 2015, all young people up to the age of 23 years old who are not engaged in studies or work are encouraged to join the Youth Guarantee Scheme offered by the Ministry for Education and Employment, which provides a work placement or a training programme to enhance their skills, together with support from psychologists, occupational therapists and job coaches.
People who are unable to continue working due to medical reasons, are awarded an invalidity pension at a rate which is based on the number of social security contributions paid. A contributory invalidity pension is awarded to those who have paid 250 contributions, completed a minimum of six months of uninterrupted employment or one year of the Jobsplus’ Part 1 registration, and are found by the Social Security Department’s medical board to be permanently unable to work due to physical or mental illness. Eight different rates of invalidity pension are available, depending on the applicant’s civil status and his/her paid/or credited social security contributions.
Apart from the provision of financial benefits payable by virtue of the Social Security Act and other in-kind benefits, as explained above, the Ministry for the Family, Children's Rights and Social Solidarity also offers housing arrangements and social welfare services to help young people overcome inequalities and have a better quality of life.
Throughout these last few years, various reforms have been undertaken in the area of social welfare provision in order to promote a more integrated and holistic service. Following the successful implementation of the EU co-financed LEAP pilot project, locally-based Family Resource Centres and Regional Development Centres are currently being set up with the aim of providing a point of reference within the community through the provision of various forms of social support. Specifically aimed at combatting poverty and social exclusion through a more grassroots outreach-oriented and integrated approach, these Centres are designed to foster more inclusive communities through the empowerment and participation of disadvantaged groups, and collaborative networking among stakeholders. Indeed, they offer a one-stop shop approach through multiple services and support in a number of areas including training, employment, social benefits and childcare service, as well as a wide range of social work and community services to reduce poverty and promote social inclusion. These Centres offer services to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups which are often at risk of poverty, such as single parents, people with disabilities, ex-offenders, migrants and the working poor, which populations also include young people.
The type of service provided depends on the specific target groups. Apart from a wide range of universal services, the Ministry for the Family, Children's Rights and Social Solidarity also provides a number of targeted and specialised services, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people, such as those with disabilities, those experiencing abuse and violence, and those residing in out-of-home care.
The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate promote healthy lifestyles through initiatives in various settings including community, schools and the workplace through various mediums including social media. The main focus is on well-being, healthy eating, weight management, physical activity, tobacco prevention, oral health and smoking cessation, infectious disease prevention and sexual health. This is done in collaboration with various entities including the Ministry of Education and Employment, Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity, Workplaces, Local Councils, Agenzija Zaghzagh, Sport Malta, NGOs and youth clubs. The opportunity is available for all to ensure accessibility to all.
Various strategies have been outlined including the Healthy Weight for Life strategy, Food and Nutrition Policy and Action Plan, Sexual Health policy and strategy, and the draft Health Enhancing Physical Activity Strategy.
Some examples of specific initiatives include Schools on the Move, 360º Project, Peers Training on Sexual Health and Tobacco Cessation.
Research projects are also carried out including the Health Behaviour Study in School Children, targeting young people aged 13 and 15 years, national food consumption survey, national physical activity survey across all age groups including a representative sample of youths.
Training is carried out to health professionals and educators to ensure a consistent message is transmitted.
Mental Health Services have specifically designed services for young people.
A Crisis Intervention Service for children and adolescents is available from seven am to five pm at the Accident & Emergency at Mater Dei Hospital. Through this service, children and adolescents who are experiencing metal health related issues can drop in and be reviewed by a psychiatric specialist and by a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse. If required the client can be referred further to a psychologist or social worker.
Regular psychological services can also be accessed through the Child and Young People's Services.
In addition, for those young people requiring inpatient treatment, a new unit 12 bed unit has been set up just outside of the perimeter of Mount Carmel Hospital. This Youth Residence provides a 24-hour protective, therapeutic environment with professional assessment and stabilisation of acute mental health issues. It provides both inpatient care facilities as well as therapeutic day programmes as part of a patients care plan. Access to on-going education at the appropriate developmental level also forms an essential criteria of the service.
Professional development for health care mediators is provided through training such as ‘Cultural Mediators in Health Care’. This is delivered to interested candidates by the Migrant Health Liaison Office within Primary Health Care. Two of the present Cultural Mediators working at the Primary Health Care took part in the LEAP Project where they received training and a skills passport. Individuals interested in this role are also encouraged to attend courses to improve their English and computer skills.
The cultural mediation service is a collective effort between Mater Dei Hospital and the Primary Health Care Department. This method would be beneficial if adopted in other health and social care settings.
See Social Services.
The Social Care Standards Authority regulates all social care services for vulnerable young people who may need or are receiving particular services due to a disability, addiction or because due to their current circumstances they are unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves against harm or exploitation. By regulating and inspecting such services these young people are assured that the service empowers them to improve their life, preventing further harm, abuse or neglect towards them as well as supporting them through professional intervention.
Healthcare Standards Directorate
The Healthcare Standards Directorate is responsible to regulate, inspect and license those establishments that provide a service, which may impact public health, issue standards to support a service of excellence provided through these establishment. The key principles are to keep people safe, promote dignity and choice and finally but not least support independence. The values of the Standards Directorate are about being people-centred, transparent and accessible and finally be rigorous and fair, and actively involved to change for the better.
Housing Quality Assurance
Chapter 125 Housing Act aims to make provision for securing living accommodation to the homeless, for ensuring a fair distribution of living accommodation and for the requisitioning of buildings
Financial Quality Assurance
Chapter 174 Financial Administration and Audit Act aims to regulate the receipt, control and disbursement of public money, to provide for the audit of accounts in relation thereto, and to provide for other matters connected with or incidental to the purposes aforesaid.