10 JANUARY 2017
Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) whether he can provide details on the three-year "Break the Silence" public education campaign to encourage witnesses to safely intervene in family violence situations;
(b) whether the Ministry will set up a dedicated hotline for victims and witnesses of family violence to report abuses; and
(c) whether the Ministry will provide urgent advice to victims and witnesses and coordinate interventions by specialist centres and the police.
My Ministry launched the three-year “Break the Silence | Against Family Violence” campaign last November, essentially, to renew and to continue to raise awareness of family violence, with a focus on the role of bystanders. The key message is that family violence is not a private matter. Victims need help. They need to receive help early. The community, including neighbours, family members, friends and even strangers, can play a very important part to tackle family violence.
As part of the campaign, a "First Steps" video, depicting how a neighbour intervenes when violence occurs nearby, is available online. I do encourage each of us in the House to share the video and other collaterals on social media to start conversations around family violence and how we as bystanders can step in to help victims. The #breakthesilenceSG effort was started to also gather stories on social media of how everyday Singaporeans stepped in to prevent, interrupt and report suspected family violence. It can be done. There are people who have done so and who have made a difference and it is really to encourage all of us to realise that that is something that all of us can and should do.
Over the next three years, my Ministry will work with our community and corporate partners, including through ground-up efforts relating to music, through the sports community and the arts community, to further raise awareness of family violence. We also have roving community roadshows, training sessions and collaterals being produced to help raise awareness and to equip bystanders with resources and also to update them on skills that are required to safely step in to help victims.
Anyone who encounters family violence can call or approach the nearest Family Service Centre, Family Violence Specialist Centre or community-based Child Protection Specialist Centre. Alternatively, they can call the ComCare Hotline at 1800-222-0000, a number which many of us are familiar with and from there they can redirect the individuals to the specialist centres concerned. These agencies will assess each case and render the appropriate assistance required.
When emergencies occur, call the Police. Agencies are connected through the National Family Violence Networking System and will respond to cases regardless of where the first incident report is made. Where there are serious concerns, my Ministry will work closely with the Family Violence Specialist Centres and the Police to address the safety of the victim and any other vulnerable members in the family.