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National Family Violence Networking System symposium

Our distinguished keynote speakers,
Partners,
Ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to be back at the National Family Violence Networking System (NFVNS) symposium.

I like in particular the theme for this year’s symposium - “All Hands on Deck: Strengthening Integrated Response for Safer Families”. Let me highlight a case to illustrate what an integrated effort may look like. James* – not his real name - was incarcerated for causing grievous hurt to his spouse. Before his release, my Ministry organised a case conference with the Singapore Prison Service, Singapore Police Force, the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and two Family Service Centres managing the case.

One of the outcomes was a linkup between the Prison Service and IMH for James to have follow-up treatments and assessments upon his release. The FSC social workers ensured that his family were aware of the help available. After James returned to the family, the social workers provided counselling support to James and also worked closely with the family to monitor their safety. They also alerted the Neighbourhood Police Centre to be on the lookout should they observe anything of concern with this family during their rounds in the neighbourhood.

I believe that an integrated response amongst all of us will help achieve better outcomes in keeping families safe. My Ministry – the Ministry of Social and Family Development – is therefore committed to encouraging and supporting key partners in fulfilling their respective roles in this endeavour.

Bolstering Public Education

One such aspect is public education in the prevention and early intervention of family violence. We must educate the public that family violence is not acceptable and should not be allowed to perpetuate. We should also encourage those affected by family violence to seek assistance. We should also urge the community to play their part to stop family violence by reporting abuse immediately.

In this regard, I am pleased that the National Family Violence Networking System is launching a new public education effort. This comprises a dedicated website on family violence and related public education materials. The tagline - Family Violence Destroys Lives. Seek Help Early – aptly describes what we hope those affected as well as the larger community will do.

Strengthening Intervention Services

Even as we step up public education, we must bolster help services. Today, we have three Family Violence Specialist Centres – otherwise known as FVSCs, which provide intervention for perpetrators, victims and their children. These centres provide for the protection, therapeutic and rehabilitative needs of the clients and their families.

We recognise the intensive and complex nature of the work they do. They work with chronic family violence perpetrators still living with their families or highly stressed caregivers who are at risk of abusing their elderly or mentally incapacitated relative. My ministry will enhance funding for these centres to further support their good work. The new funding model will focus on rendering case management for the family as a whole.

At the same time, we will be working with partners to develop 2 new Child Protection Specialist Centres. These centres will provide community based casework, specialised assessment and treatment programmes that offer intensive home-based parenting sessions or counselling for children and their families with moderate risk and needs. Higher risk cases such as where the caregiver has severe mental health concerns or the parents are in denial of the abuse will continue to be served by MSF’s child protection services. We aim for these centres to be operational by the first quarter of 2013.

We will be providing an estimated $6 Million in funding each year to support the five Child Protection and Family Violence Specialist Centres.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, later today, we will be presenting the Family Violence Dialogue Group Awards to recognise partners who have gone beyond their call of duty in collaborating with others in preventing or addressing family violence. These individuals have displayed strong commitment and passion towards clients and advocated for their family members to receive the appropriate services. In times of crises, they were able to engage partners for immediate case discussions and willingly provided emotional support to their clients late into the night. I would like to acknowledge all of them. They have set good examples of how we can work with likeminded partners to bring about positive changes for families and children who might have been or were affected by family violence.

I would also like to thank all of you present today. I am heartened by your presence at this event and participation in this important area of work. I wish all of you a fruitful symposium.

Thank you.
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