Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether there are any recommendations from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Family Violence to tackle family violence; and (b) whether there are any immediate steps to help prevent family violence against children below the age of 12 years who may not have direct access to help except through their own caregivers.
Family violence is not a private matter. Our society does not condone it. The Break the Silence Campaign was launched in 2016 to raise public awareness and alertness about family violence.
2 The Inter-Agency Taskforce on Family Violence was set up in February 2020 to further focus efforts to tackle family violence. As tackling family violence is a whole-of-community effort, the Taskforce comprises members from the Government, the Courts and partners such as hospitals, family violence specialist centres, crisis shelters and family service centres. The Taskforce has conducted a focus group discussion with community partners and intends to submit its recommendations to the Minister for Social and Family Development and Minister for Home Affairs in April 2021.
3 Family violence and abuse against children must not be tolerated. Over the past few years, MSF has introduced rigorous screening tools and training to enable community partners at the various touch points to detect and act against child abuse. For example, educators, counsellors, and other professionals in preschools, schools, clinics and hospitals are alerted to pick up safety concerns involving children and intervene based on established protocols, including alerting MSF’s Child Protective Service.
4 A key community partner – Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVE) has launched an app called "Community Guardian". This app allows grassroots leaders and volunteers to report family violence cases so that trained first responders in the vicinity can quickly investigate the incidents. The Taskforce has also stepped up efforts to bring in corporate partners and trained community leaders so that there are more eyes and ears on the ground to alert the authorities to possible instances of family violence.
5 We urge neighbours, family members and members of the public to step forward and report concerns about abuse, so that victims, especially children, in our midst can be protected and assisted in a timely manner.