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Opening Address by Minister Desmond Lee at the SG Cares Community Network Session at Pasir Ris and Punggol

Type: Official Speeches: Desmond Lee, Official Speeches (All)

Topic(s): Financial Assistance & Social Support, MSFCare Volunteers

1. Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. You may be here today for various reasons

  • To catch up with one another
  • Know more people
  • Raise issues that are close to your heart

2. But we share one purpose - to better serve the people in Pasir Ris -- Punggol.

Making Waves from The Ground Up

3. Today is the final session of our first wave of SG Cares Community Network Sessions.

  • We started in May 2018, and gradually covered all towns All in all, we have organised 19 sessions island-wide, involving 160 government and community help agencies, comprising 3,500 partners.

4. I hear from our community partners that these sessions have been useful. They've

  • Met other like-minded and passionate individuals Learnt about and discussed local needs, and Sparked off new partnerships with each other.

5. Previous sessions have also started to bear fruit. For example, by spinning off regular discussion platforms and workgroups, to tackle challenging cases and delve into the needs of the community.

  • Tripartite Network@Jurong East is an initiative by SSO@Jurong East, Grassroots Organisations, and Lakeside Family Services To upskill the community's capabilities and knowledge. They also regularly meet with one another to discuss complex cases that involve multiple agencies.

6. The Community Network Sessions complement many self-initiated projects that have sprouted organically. For example, in Pasir Ris and Punggol

  • United 4 YOU(th) is a network of youth agencies that came together to address youth at-risk issues. The network has taken root in Punggol North Division, Where they worked with the Constituency Office and Care Corner Youth Go! to reach out to youth who are not meaningfully engaged after school.

Comprehensive, Convenient and Coordinated Help

7. Over the last 2 years, my colleagues and I have been working to strengthen our social safety nets, and enhancing collaboration within the community.

8. To achieve this, we introduced changes to the way we do things, to make assistance more comprehensive, convenient and coordinated

9. First, Officers from frontline agencies across the government are being trained

  • So that they can help to identify clients' needs that can be met through services and schemes offered by other agencies.
  • This will enable individuals and families in need to get the help they need in a comprehensive and holistic manner.
  • We are on track to train more than 2,500 officers in public sector agencies such as Housing and Development Board and People's Association by the end of this year.

10. Second, we have started to roll-out Community Link (ComLink) to better support families living in rental housing.

  • This is being set this up at 4 sites across Singapore, for a start, to understand the needs of families living in rental blocks more holistically, and collaborate with agencies and community partners to develop targeted and integrated support services.
  • Local Implementation Workgroups, comprising the SSOs, grassroots, community partners and government agencies, have been formed.
  • They have been meeting regularly since the beginning of this year.
  • They have also started reaching out to families, one-on-one and face-to-face, to better understand their needs and their strengths, their concerns and their aspirations.
  • Based on the information gathered, the workgroups will partner the families as well as the local community, to design and implement targeted but holistic programmes and services for them.

11. Third, we are strengthening collaboration with community and government agencies to deliver services around families' needs.

  • Some SSOs are already co-located with complementary services such as employment assistance and family services.
  • Where co-location is not possible, we provide easier access for clients to advice and services via video-conferencing.
  • All SSOs have video-conferencing links with HDB. SSOs not currently co-located with WSG or e2i will have VC links with them by the end of this year.
  • We have streamlined our assessment protocols so that clients can access help from several agencies without having to make separate applications, submit documents multiple times or attend numerous interviews.
  • For example, ComCare beneficiaries with children studying in Polytechnics will soon be automatically assessed for eligibility to receive government bursaries.

12. We want various government agencies and community services to work together in a more integrated and seamless way to help families with complex needs.

13. To facilitate this, we've developed a set of Guidelines for Case Master Action Planning, or Case MAP.

  • This introduces common guidelines and processes to guide and support you, when you need to work together with other agencies for complex cases.
  • It will help to determine which organisation will be responsible for coordinating the family's support across multiple partners.
  • We have rolled out the Guidelines for Case MAP in 7 locales, including Punggol, under Phase 1, and intend to roll out island-wide by the end of this year.

14. Strengthening our social safety nets is a focus area not just for MSF, but for the Whole-of-Government and the Whole-of-Community.

  • The Ministry of Health (MOH) has also embarked on similar efforts, for instance, through its Community Network for Seniors which coordinates efforts across social and health sector, to serve our seniors.

15. Having set the context of the work that we are undertaking to strengthen our social safety nets, let me now come back to the crux of it all - why are we here, and what do we hope to achieve by bringing all of us together in Pasir Ris - Punggol town to form this local Community Network?

16. The SG Cares Community Networks are, in fact, an integral and vital part of our efforts to strengthen service delivery.

  • Why do I say that?
  • I say that because, if we truly want to weave a much more integrated and coordinated social safety net in Singapore, we need to make sure that we have 3 elements - (a) good systems, (b) effective processes, and (c) strong relationships of trust.
  • We can set up structures, systems and processes - co-location, streamlining processes, case conferencing and data sharing, and so on.
  • But it is essentially the human factors - relationships and trust - that determine the success of these initiatives, and bring about tangible benefits to the residents.
  • I've seen in some places where the people who work in the frontline government agencies, the SSAs, the social and healthcare agencies, the community groups and volunteers know each other well, and trust each other.
  • The collaboration between them and their organisations is more seamless, more integrated, more effective.
  • Ultimately the families and individuals in need are placed in the centre, and receive better support.
  • Conversely, I've seen in some other places, where the frontline officers from the local agencies, charities and community groups don't know each other well, and haven't developed that working level trust and relationship.
  • Things can take a bit of time to move, actions may be inconsistent, and outcomes therefore less satisfactory.

17. So by forming this Community Network, we hope to achieve a few things

  • One, create opportunities for each of us here to build and deepen professional working relationships with frontline colleagues from other agencies in this area.
  • Two, build up a collective understanding of the needs on the ground, in this area, as well as the assistance and schemes out there in the community, so we can offer help more effectively.
  • Three, create the conditions for more effective inter-agency and multi-disciplinary work, and foster better social-health integration.
  • And four, provide an environment for meaningful partnerships and collaboration among our various agencies and community groups.

18. This is not going to be achieved in one meeting.

  • We will have Community Network Sessions of this scale every year.
  • And in between, to keep up the momentum, we hope to foster more platforms for agencies and community groups to meet, to deep dive and identify needs together, to work together, and to team-build together.

Nurturing our Community Networks and Deepening Partnerships

19. Our second wave of SG Cares Community Network Sessions will continue to foster the relationships we build today, and translate them into concrete action.

  • We want to invite you, to join and explore together new ways in carrying out the second wave of SG Cares Community Network Sessions.
  • Each town will have its own different challenges, so each Network will evolve slightly differently.

20. Volunteers and donors often ask how they can contribute more meaningfully and sustainably.

  • Since there are diverse needs, and many ways to help,
  • Someone unfamiliar with the social sector can find the process confusing or uncertain.
  • We recognise these challenges, and want to simplify the process for people who are keen to get started.

21. As our Community Networks take root and grow, there will be new ways for volunteers to contribute.

  • The Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth (MCCY) will set up 7 Volunteer Centres by the end of this year.
  • It has already started in Jurong East and Bedok, and will come to Pasir Ris - Punggol.
  • Maybe not this year, but eventually.
  • These centres will be the go-to place for people to find out what needs there are, and how they can contribute.
  • Through this, we build on the spirit of SG Cares, where each of us can play a part.

22. "A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step." (Lao Tzu)

  • You have taken the first step by getting to know more people today
  • Our journey continues after Moving beyond "Hi-s" and "Bye-s"
  • To exchanging ideas, developing solutions, deepening our relationships and trust.

23. I wish you a fruitful networking and discussion, to walk the next thousand miles together.

Thank you.



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