Education & Training

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A Municipal Meeting Held in Vladičin Han to Discuss Improvement of Access to Social Welfare and Health Protection for Vulnerable Population in the South of Serbia

As part of the project Access to Social Welfare and Health Protection for Vulnerable Groups in the South of Serbia - Phase II, implemented by Praxis with the support of the Foundation Caritas Luxembourg, on 4 February 2014 a meeting was held in Vladičin Han with representatives of municipal authorities, institutions and civil society. This is the third meeting that Praxis organised within this project in Pčinja District.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Social Welfare Centre, representatives of the Department of General Administration responsible for administering civil records, Assistant  President of the Municipality, representatives of the National Employment Service, pedagogical assistant, trustee for refugees and displaced persons, health mediator and representatives of non-governmental organisations Association Rom Vladičin Han, Association “Roma of Vladičin Han”, Association „Khan", Association of Roma Intellectuals, as well as Roma activists.

Based on the information obtained during the implementation of project activities, including the meeting, vulnerable population in the Municipality of Vladičin Han is usually faced with the problems relating to the inability to register permanent residence and obstacles in exercising the right to financial social assistance. The reasons why individuals are not able to register their permanent residence at the addresses where they actually live lie mainly in their inability to provide proof of legal basis for residing in the residential building in which they live or in the consequence of common-law marriages entered by the minors who must provide the consent and presence of parents in order to submit a request for changing the address and issuing the identity card. Due to the inability to register their permanent residence, these persons are prevented from obtaining an ID card.

A number of underage mothers cannot exercise the right to health insurance in the Municipality of Vladičin Han since their permanent residence is in the place of their parents’ permanent residence. Representatives of the Republic Fund for Health Insurance and representatives of the Ministry of Interior did not attend the meeting, which means that it was not possible to obtain information from the representatives of relevant institutions about possible ways of overcoming these obstacles. It was noted that this problem required systemic solutions and that little could be done at the local level about the existing regulations in this field.

A large number of socially vulnerable citizens in this municipality are affected by deep poverty and therefore, in order to overcome the adverse financial situation, forced to address the Social Welfare Centre requesting the recognition of the right to social assistance or a one-off financial assistance. In this regard, by monitoring the individual cases of exercising the right to social assistance, it was found that these procedures were very lengthy and that decisions were not issued within the statutory deadlines, as pointed out by Praxis to representatives of the Social Welfare Centre. In addition, citizens mostly complain about inadequate treatment when submitting a request. In this respect, Director Dobri Stevanović, who has been in that position since recently, said he was aware of the described bad practice and that the improvement of institution’s work organisation had been planned through a series of measures, such as the introduction of reception officer who would be trained to work with members of vulnerable groups; printing of guides for the procedure before the Social Welfare Centre; education and sensitisation of institution staff in order to improve the quality of service provision. The Director stressed that he believed that close cooperation between the institution and civil society organisations was very important for ensuring the effective exercise of rights to social protection and that he would seek to enhance that cooperation.

The participants considered that such meetings were very useful for educating, informing and further sensitising the staff of institutions, in addition to being important for improving mutual cooperation.

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action