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The Family and Vulnerable Sectors

The Family and Vulnerable Sectors

This project is split into two separate sections, although there will be some overlap between the two. The family is not in itself a vulnerable sector, but it is subject to various pressures that make it difficult for it to play its vital role in society. The vulnerable sectors which will be focused on reflect an ongoing concern for people whose interests are often overlooked by policy-makers and legislators: people with disabilities; girl children; the elderly; and prisoners.

A. The Family

The National Development Plan (NDP) sees the family as “responsible for the reproduction of independent, productive, good and responsible people.” However, it identifies a number of pressures that inhibit families from fulfilling their role: apartheid-era spatial geography; a high incidence of orphan-headed households due to HIV/AIDS; domestic interpersonal violence; and patriarchy. The plan suggests that a “full review of the state of the family” should be undertaken.

At the same time, the Department of Social Development is in the process of implementing the White Paper on the Family, which seeks to provide integrated family programmes which are in informed by location-based decision making in terms of population density, growth, social composition and holistic impact. The UN also has a focus on ‘Confronting Family Poverty and Social Exclusion’ which links up with issues of service delivery and the proper application of the norms and standards regarding the family.

The Church, too, is focusing on family issues over the coming period with two sessions of the Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 2014 and 2015 respectively. Although the perspectives of the Church on the one hand, and the secular authorities on the other, will not always coincide where family issues are concerned, it is encouraging that both are taking the family seriously.

CPLO will focus on conveying the Church’s stance on family-related matters to the Department of Social Development, and to the relevant portfolio committees, and will monitor the implementation of the NDP’s intended review. We will also keep Church leadership informed about family-related developments in the secular policy and legislative sphere.

B. Vulnerable Sectors

Many of South Africa’s citizens continue to experience multi-layered vulnerability where their rights to dignity, equality, freedom of movement and security of person, assured by the Constitution, continue to be compromised. Many people are in need of special care, support and protection because of age or infirmity, or risk of abuse or neglect. This is particularly the case the case with regard to children, especially girls, those with disability, and the elderly. Although prisoners may be to a very large extent responsible for their own misfortune, the fact remains that they are vulnerable to all kinds of abuse and neglect while incarcerated; and that, when they are released, they are often more brutalized than before, and continue to pose a threat to their communities.


  1. The Girl Child
  2. People with Disability
  3. The Elderly
  4. Prisons and Correctional Policy