Timely and relevant!

That is how Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, has described the upcoming National Consultation on Society which will be held this Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

According to Mr. Lashley, with all the changes taking place in the Barbadian society, some positive and others not so progressive, it has become necessary to have dialogue on such key issues that could affect this country’s development.

"We are looking to build a stronger Barbados going forward. There have been a number of changes to the values we held dear and some of them are being eroded. If we want to advance as a society, we need to determine what our weaknesses are, what our problem areas are and we need to identify solutions to these problems.

"This consultation will allow the participants to meet, strip these issues down, compartmentalise them and find answers that are relevant to what is happening in Barbados today. We want to come up with very specific recommendations that would be more meaningful to society," he stated.

Mr. Lashley pointed out that a document outlining the recommendations would be prepared and forwarded to Cabinet for discussion. He added that this consultation was an initiative which was very dear to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s heart and he expressed confidence that the outcome would be central to the development of Government’s policy on various key societal matters.

Emphasising the importance of the consultation, the Minister said: "In some instances, there are certain family values which must be brought back to the fore. We have certain issues which we have to deal with in our family structure. Our society has changed, how we parent has changed … and because those dynamics have changed, we have different issues impacting the family.

"Our pace of life has increased phenomenally and, therefore, some of the things we considered important have changed. Thus, in some instances, our priorities are not what they used to be. So now, more than ever, we must sit down as a society and find solutions to these challenges."

Approximately 200 persons drawn from government departments, civil society organisations and the church are expected to participate in the consultation, which has as its theme The Changing Barbadian Society: Shaping a Brighter Tomorrow. Prime Minister Stuart will deliver the feature address during the official opening ceremony, while Minister Lashley will give remarks.

The topics to be discussed over the two days are:?? Changing Norms and Values by Sociologist, Richard Carter; Society and Religion by Principal of Codrington College, Dr. Ian Rock; The Law and Society by former Coroner, Faith Marshall-Harris, and Responding to the Needs of Vulnerable Groups by acting Deputy Director of the Bureau of Social Policy and Research, Lee Rose.????

In addition, Socio-Economic Empowerment and the Citizen will be examined by Reverend Eliseus Joseph of the Apostolic Teaching Centre, while Environmental Sustainability will be looked at by the Director of the Natural Heritage Department, Steve Devonish. The proposals from the recently held Religious Summit will also be fed into the meeting.

Some have lauded Government’s decision to host this consultation, describing it as an excellent initiative which is critical and timely. Therefore, Barbadians should eagerly await the recommendations from this broad-based group as all in the community play their part – in bringing our society back on track.


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