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Revised White Paper on Families Republished

July 8, 2021

Department of Social Development

The Revised White Paper on Families in South Africa has been republished.

The social development department published the Revised White Paper in Government Gazette 44799.

It was first published in Gazette 44724 on 18 June 2021.

According to the department, the 2013 White Paper on Families was revised via a consultative process which involved provincial and national stakeholder workshops attended by a range of participants including representatives from the national, provincial and district departments of social development; representatives from other government departments; and civil society representatives.

The department points out that the Covid-19 lockdown impacted on the consultation process as in-person consultation could not take place.

Consequently, the consultative workshops were run virtually.

The department indicated that it is expected that the revision will be subject to ongoing consultations in the next financial year.

The White Paper focuses on setting the context; response strategy for families and coordination, implementation and monitoring structures.

The Revised White Paper for Families “draws on the strengths of foregoing policy documents, aims to address these criticisms and concerns, makes revisions based on reviews of the previous iterations, updates the policy paper to account for the contemporary situation of families in South Africa, and integrates feedback from state and civil society stakeholders that engaged in consultations during the revising of the White Paper”.

The Revised White Paper also views the family as a “key development imperative and seeks to mainstream family issues into government-wide, policy-making initiatives to foster positive family well-being and overall socio-economic development in the country”.

Objectives include ensuring that families have access to the basic resources, assets, and services they require to promote family well-being; empowering families to access socio-economic opportunities, resources and services and to leverage social networks and resources to improve their well-being; promoting strong and equitable intra-family relationships within safe, supportive and nurturing communities and supporting families in need or characterised by severe conflict or neglect of vulnerable family members, to regain their dignity and dissolve in an amicable way.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) aims to table a private member’s bill in parliament designed to amend the Children’s Act of 2005.

The Draft Children’s Amendment Bill drawn up by Siviwe Gwarube, a DA member of parliament, seeks to provide for the prohibition of conversion therapy on children.

Gwarube points out that conversion therapy, a “pseudo-science approach to ‘curing’ children of homosexuality”, is still rife in South Africa.

Conversion therapy also targets a “specific group on an exclusive basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and is therefore discriminatory in nature and contrary to international human rights standards”.

According to the explanatory summary published in Gazette 44806, the proposed legislation aims to:

• insert certain definitions;
• provide for the prohibition of conversion therapy on children;
• provide that conversion therapy on children is an offence in terms of the Act; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

Comment is invited within 30 days of the date of publication.