Associate Professor Esther Goh
Head of Department of Social Work,
Associate Professor Chia Ngee Choon
Associate Professor Thang Leng Leng
Next Age Institute Co-Directors,
Mr Adam Rahman
Head of Corporate Affairs for Citi Singapore and ASEAN
NUS Faculty members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is my pleasure to join you today, as we witness the announcement of the Next Age Institute’s plans to develop a new Financial Capability and Asset Building training curriculum for frontline staff and volunteers.
2. Before I begin my address, I would like to take the chance to thank all our social workers, service staff and professionals. Because the pandemic was not only a test of our healthcare system, but also our social support systems. Many of you went above and beyond the call of duty to support those in need and to rally the community together. Playing a crucial role in our nation’s fight against COVID-19. Today, we are in a much stronger position, as the local COVID-19 situation got better, stabilises, and this could not have been possible without your support, and Singaporeans from all walks of life uniting and rallying together. Both individuals and families, as well as the people, private and public sectors joining hands. This spirit of togetherness and way of working together has enabled us to overcome crisis after crisis, as a nation, since independence.
AN ENABLING SOCIAL COMPACT FOR FAMILIES AND THE LOWER-INCOME
3. This is because in Singapore, our Social Compact is one where the Government creates conditions for growth. Which means good jobs and access to quality and affordable healthcare, education, and housing for Singaporeans. Families form the bedrock of our society. They are our first line of support, nurturing resilient individuals. In fact, we have designated 2022 as the Year of Celebrating SG Families. Because we want to recognise the enduring role of the family in our society and to support the building of strong families. For those who fall upon difficult times, including the lower income, the Government enables and supports them, together with the support of a caring community and a strong social service sector.
4. All of us, we share a common goal – to enable and to uplift the lives of lower-income families. And this can be summarised in what we call “the 3S” – to achieve stability, self-reliance and social mobility. To achieve the 3S, we also need to enable families to attain financial stability and resilience. And this applies to every family. Because an unstable income and financial foundation can easily erupt and become a source of stress and unhappiness in any family, creating disharmony and fractious familial relations.
5. For many lower-income families, achieving financial stability can be even more challenging for various reasons. For example, some may find it difficult to plan their finances, if their income flows are uncertain or insufficient for their household expenditure. Others may face a bandwidth tax in juggling daily expenses. Yet, achieving financial stability is even more important for them. Because it is a necessary condition and enabler for social mobility. Hence, to enable families to achieve the 3S, we need to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to make informed financial decisions.
ENHANCING FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT CAPABILITIES OF THE SECTOR
6. This is where the Financial Capability and Asset Building training curriculum plays a crucial role. Since the programme was first rolled out in 2020, it has equipped 350 social workers with the skills and knowledge to integrate and scaffold financial planning within their support for families in need. Through the training, many social workers were also better able to view challenges in financial management from the family’s perspective. This makes them more effective in guiding the families towards financial resilience, and eventually the 3S. I am confident that through these 350 social workers, many more families have been enabled with financial management skills – a multiplier effect.
7. Hence, I am glad that we are building upon this effort and expanding the training to even more enablers within our social support ecosystem – to include other social service professionals, frontline staff, and even volunteers. Together with our social workers, they form the caring community that I spoke of earlier. Playing an integral role to uplift Singaporeans in need. For instance, our ComLink befrienders. Under ComLink, families with children living in public rental housing are supported by a team of volunteer befrienders. They will journey with them towards longer term goals, with the 3S in mind. By equipping our ComLink volunteers with the necessary financial management knowledge, they can in turn better nudge families towards financial resilience.
8. At the sectoral and professional level, financial management knowledge is also part of the broader skillsets that social service practitioners require to provide holistic support for their clients. Hence, MSF and NCSS are committed to ensure that our Social Service Agencies (or SSAs) are well equipped to adopt these skills. I encourage SSAs to tap on the various professional capability building schemes, including the Community Capability Trust, to embark on initiatives to strengthen their organisational capabilities to this end.
9. To conclude, I would like to commend the good work by partners like the NUS Department of Social Work and NAI, as well as Citi Foundation for their support. The FCAB training curriculum will go a long way in enabling many families to gain financial resilience and to achieve the 3S – stability, self-reliance, and social mobility.
10. Let’s keep up the good work. As we join hands to nurture lives together, and to build a more caring, resilient, and inclusive Singapore. Thank you.