MSF's "Break the Silence | Against Family Violence" campaign raised awareness amongst Singaporeans that family violence is not a private matter
1 In the last year, one in three callers who called the ComCare Call Hotline (1800-222-0000) on family violence related matters are do-gooders. They had suspected incidence of abuse happening around them, and raised the alert by calling the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
2 This heightened awareness of family violence and recognising that family violence is not a private matter, is the early fruits of a three-year "Break the Silence | Against Family Violence" campaign that the MSF launched in November 2016. The campaign aims to encourage persons who witness or suspect family violence to prevent, interrupt and report suspected acts of violence around them. Prior to the campaign, one in five callers who called the ComCare Call Hotline are do-gooders. On average, the ComCare hotline receives about 62 calls annually on family violence related matters.
3 As part of the campaign, MSF collaborated with community and corporate partners to equip bystanders with resources and skills to help victims of violence. This is done through various ground-up efforts, roving community roadshows, training sessions and collaterals.
4 Mr Kerk Kim Por, Director of SportCares Foundation said, "Gender violence doesn't discriminate and it's often a manifestation of attitudes and beliefs that individuals develop as children. That's why community engagement activities like 'Play Like A Girl' and 'Let's Play Fair Futsal Tournament' are so important to SportCares as they teach our youth, boys and girls alike, that teamwork and mutual respect knows no gender."
STRENGTHENING THE VIOLENCE PROTECTION NETWORK
5 As nations around the world commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women today, MSF continues to place emphasis on building the competency and capacity of sector professionals and community partners to deal with female victims of family violence.
6 Female child victims currently account for more than half of child abuse cases investigated by MSF. Since mid-2015, we have rolled out better screening tools, to sharpen the sector's capability in assessing safety concerns and risk factors. These tools facilitate decision-making at critical points to improve the detection, reporting and management of child abuse cases. MSF also worked with partners from the health, education and social services sectors to co-develop some of these tools, to better guide and facilitate professionals in the reporting of suspected child abuse cases to MSF's Child Protective Service. Our efforts have uncovered more cases with serious child protection concerns which were flagged for intervention.
7 Ms Rahayu Mohamad, President of PPIS, said, "PPIS' work with families aims to strengthen relationships by promoting alternatives to violence and encouraging others to break the silence to stop violence from recurring. This, we cannot do alone. Hence, the need to work with practitioners, associations and organisations to advocate for ending violence, to increase awareness of the causes and consequences of violence and build capacity of partners to prevent and respond to violence."
8 Beyond the network of assistance and support, it is also pertinent for female victims of family violence to have easy access to help. Social service agencies, such as PAVE, TRANS SAFE Centre and Care Corner Project StART (Stop Abusive Relationships Together), act as one-stop service centres that specialise in family violence matters. They provide female victims medical services, legal advice, casework management and counselling services, and facilities to apply for Personal Protection Orders through video-conferencing.
9 Dr Sudha Nair, Executive Director of PAVE, one of our key partners, said, "Family violence is often shrouded in secrecy, so breaking the secret to a family member, a friend, a community leader, an employer, a teacher, a coach - anyone who can access help is vital. It is something that all of us should commit to. Because while the responsibility to stop violence belongs to the person who uses it, as a community, we all have a responsibility to reach out to someone in pain, and link them to services."
Annex: ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: INTER-AGENCY EFFORTS IN PROTECTING FAMILIES
1. National Family Violence Networking System
The National Family Violence Networking System (NFVNS) is a tight network of support and assistance that provides multiple points of contact for those affected by family violence. The key stakeholders are the Singapore Police Force, hospitals, Family Violence Specialist Centres and Family Service Centres (community-based voluntary welfare organisations).
2. Family Violence Dialogue Group
The Family Violence Dialogue Group (FVDG) is a strategic development and policy planning group established to enhance provisions and services for families affected by violence. It is jointly headed by MSF and the Singapore Police Force, and comprises the Courts, the Prisons, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Chairpersons of Regional Family Violence Working Groups, the National Council of Social Service and social service agencies as members.
3. Regional Family Violence Working Groups
Since 2003, six Regional Family Violence Working Groups, led by non-government organisations, have been harnessing community energy to spearhead and plan joint regional activities to raise awareness of family violence, examine new trends at the grassroots level, and seek new ways to help families affected by violence.
4. The Inter-Ministry Workgroup on Child Protection
The Inter-Ministry Workgroup on Child Protection (IWCP) is co-chaired by MSF and MHA, and comprises representatives from government agencies, statutory boards, hospitals and Child Protection Specialist Centres. The IWCP sets the strategic policy direction for service planning and development in child protection, including the roles and responsibilities of various partners in the management of child abuse.