Uploaded on Oct 6, 2011
SINGAPORE: Amid the volatile economic situation, the Community Development, Youth and Sports Ministry said the growth of new service models is needed to offer more targeted help.
Acting Minister Chan Chun Sing said the move can benefit more Singaporeans like those in the lower middle income group.
In his first wide-ranging interview since taking office four months ago, Mr Chan said as society evolves, the needs of the people will become more diverse.
While there are ample social services to help the very needy, another group will increasingly need more attention.
He said: "The next 10 to 20 percentile - they are what I called the at-risk group...they are managing today, but perhaps because they are in jobs that are not so resilient across the economic cycles...what we are concerned with is that if there is a serious recession, they might lose their jobs.
"You lose your financial ability, then you might face a whole series of other issues. These are people who are generally lower educated, some of them could be a bit older, like in their 40s and 50s. Maybe, some of them are primary school educated or secondary school educated. Now, these are the types of people that is very difficult to upgrade their skills."
So new service delivery models are needed.
One way is to pool together the services of voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), given the manpower crunch faced by the sector. Social service hubs, like the one at Tiong Bahru that offers the services of several VWOs, could be replicated.
Mr Chan said: "They are literally like a Econ-minimart. They have their own shop fronts providing a range of services by themselves, but some of the backroom services, logistics, accounting or even pooling of resources like therapists, they share them."
Putting in place a model of affordable community care is another way to offer more targeted help.
Mr Chan said: "So you have a service provider that provides this central pool of people, like the Amahs On Wheels....If you extend that concept [into areas like] nursing or therapy, instead of [the elderly people] going to the institutions, you deliver them at the community level so that you extend the outreach and save the (travelling) trouble for the elderly people."
On boosting Singapore's total fertility rate, Mr Chan said focusing on incentives such as the Baby Bonus Scheme is not the answer. Instead, he felt that more could be done to inculcate the right value system. There could also be more efforts to build a family-friendly environment within the community and workplaces.
He added more schemes for women to stay connected to their jobs could be rolled out.
"So let's say if the person is a teacher, and if there are some schemes (that allow a mother) while bringing up the child....can still maintain the link with the school or the education system, by the time the child has grown up, it is much easier for them to go back (to their job), whether it is in the teaching service or any other services," he said.
Asked if his military background has been useful, Mr Chan said that it has helped him in his Meet-The-People sessions.
He said: "(In) the Singapore military... you deal with people from all walks of life with all sorts of challenges, my [Meet-The-People sessions] now are no different from my sessions to meet my soldiers, my commanders.
"Maybe the set of problems is different but the way you have to help the people resolve and manage their problems (is similar)... Caring for our soldiers is no different from caring for your people."
Mr Chan said he is also keeping a close watch on problem gambling, especially among the low income and the elderly. The aim is to prevent it from becoming a pathological problem in Singapore. Measures to address this issue are expected soon.
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