Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether there is emergency interim public housing available at short notice to victims of domestic violence or persons alleging the same; and (b) if so, what are the criteria for the use of such housing.
Where the safety risk is high or there is no safe and suitable alternative accommodation option, victims of family violence may seek emergency shelter at MSF-funded shelters. For victims who stay in our crisis shelters, social service professionals work with the victims to address their safety, financial and emotional concerns, and assist them in securing longer-term and stable housing arrangements.
2 Even though shelters are available for victims of family violence (FV), it is often better for victims to be supported in their usual places of residence by their usual support networks of family and friends with minimise disruption to their daily routine, wherever possible. They can and will still be assisted by Family Violence Specialist Centres and Family Service Centres as needed, to ensure that safety plans are in place and they continue to receive the necessary social support.
3 To reduce the recurrence of harm, under the Women’s Charter, the Court may make a Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO) when granting a Personal Protection Order. The DEO aims to restrict the perpetrators from entering the shared residence, or parts of the shared residence. Some perpetrators also choose to leave the residence to temporarily stay with other family members or friends. This allows them the space and time to seek help to manage their emotions and tendencies, with the motivation of keeping their loved ones safe and their family intact. MSF and our social service partners can also provide the necessary support to help manage their emotions and tendencies.
4 For FV victims who apply for public rental flats as their longer-term accommodation, HDB takes into account their circumstances as part of the assessment process, and may exercise flexibility to allocate rental flats to those who have no other housing options.
5 Beyond providing shelter for victims, the Government has been working closely with our community partners to tackle FV through various means. The National Family Violence Networking System was established in 1996 to connect the Police, Courts, hospitals, social service agencies, and MSF in a tight network to provide support to families facing FV. The Taskforce on Family Violence, which I co-chair with MOS Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, has also done a recent stock-take of the landscape and possible causes of FV, so that we can intervene more effectively. The Taskforce is looking into various recommendations, along four broad thrusts:
(a) Increasing awareness and strengthening societal attitudes against violence;
(b) Making it easier for victims and the community to report violence, and to get immediate help;
(c) Strengthening protection for victims to reduce their risk of being harmed again; and
(d) Increasing the accountability of perpetrators and strengthening their rehabilitation.
6 The Taskforce will provide further details after it submits its report to the Minister for Social and Family Development and the Minister for Home Affairs later this year.