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Opening Remarks by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, Second Minister for Health, at "We Are FSC" Festival at Our Tampines Hub on 19 May 2023

Type: Official Speeches (All), Official Speeches: Masagos Zulkifli

Topic(s): Social Service Agencies & Partners, Social Service Professionals


Introduction

1. Good morning. We are here today to celebrate what you have put together for the “We Are FSC” event. There’s such a celebratory mood here, and I see many happy faces, as we gather as one FSC community to celebrate our successes.

Acknowledging our Social Service Partners

2. On behalf of MSF, let me acknowledge, and appreciate our FSC colleagues, who are our key social service partners in the community. Those who have been with the FSCs know that FSCs journey with vulnerable individuals and families, provide emotional support, and professional casework expertise to help these families. I would like to thank FSC colleagues, for your commitment in helping clients to achieve the ‘3Ses’ that we want for all families - stability, self-reliance, and social mobility.

a. Thank you again for tirelessly walking the ground, and being the face of care and love to the families you meet. Particularly, during the difficult COVID-19 period.

b. All of you play a very important role in nurturing strong families, resilient individuals, and a caring society.

3. Today, I would like to encourage us to continue the good work on three fronts. In the spirit of how the FSC acronym has been used for this event, I came up with something similar. 

a. F for Forging collaborations.

b. S for Strengthening practices.

c. C for Caring for one another.

Forge Collaborations

4. First, forging collaborations. As a sector, we can do more when we work together.

5. I am heartened, that FSCs are partnering one another, including this festival you have put together on your own initiative. Exchanging best practices and coming together in dialogue just like today’s “We Are FSC” event.

6. This collaborative effort is key. It helps us to address the needs of those we serve holistically, and more importantly, to sustain impact. In each community that we operate in, I believe it is this close partnership – across the FSC, SSO, Government agencies, and community partners, that will enable us to better support families, and address issues comprehensively.

7. We have been organising ourselves, to better serve lower-income families living in rental flats. Under ComLink, FSCs have been delivering social work interventions to families who face complex issues. And as Dr Vasoo mentioned earlier, we have been going upstream and being proactive. How do we do this? By partnering with other agencies, who help to address the other needs that these families have. Each tapping on their expertise, and availing resources. Let us keep up this good work. 

Strengthen Practices

8. As our society changes, our sector must also adapt. We must constantly strengthen, and improve our practices, to better address the needs of our community. 

9. I’m glad that many FSC representatives came on board, to refine standards for casework practice in the FSC sector, through their involvement in a cross-sector Practice Standards Workgroup. Many social workers also came forward, to provide feedback on these standards. 

10. Many of the FSC leaders here work tirelessly, to strengthen your organisations, to better support your staff, and the clients that you serve. Thank you again for contributing your views on the FSC Development Framework, which seeks to support all FSCs, in strengthening organisational development capabilities.

11. I encourage all, whether you are a social worker, counsellor, programme executive, or leader, to think of ways in which we can strengthen our practices, and build up our organisations because we want to better serve those in need. 

Care for One Another

12. C for Care. In your journey with clients, you may have to confront very challenging circumstances, where there are no easy solutions. Sometimes you may even be accused of being uncaring or unempathetic; other times you may have to take a firm stance for the good of the families. We know that cases can be complex. Each story has many sides, and the public or families may not see every side. Take heart, that you have the Ministry’s support, as you press on to uplift those in need. As a team, all of us are working towards the same mission – to support families in need, even though it is one step at a time.

a. As you support families in need, remember to first take care of yourselves and each other. On Government’s end, we are developing initiatives, to better support social service professionals. The Caring for Social Service Professionals Scheme provides funding subsidies, to help SSAs secure professional counselling services for staff. Please use the scheme. Professionals can also rest and recharge via the Sabbatical Leave Scheme, which offers paid leave of up to 10 weeks. 

b. I hope that these initiatives, will allow you to take time to care for yourselves. The work you do is a marathon and not a sprint, but be assured, that there are many cheerleaders along the journey.

c. I’m glad to see SSAs supporting other SSAs, and caring for one another. Earlier this year, New Hope Community Services launched Kampong Siglap, to provide retreat programmes for social service professionals, so that they can have a respite, and to help build up resiliency. I commend this effort, and invite all of us to think of other ways we can care for one another better.

Conclusion

13. Once again, let me thank all FSC colleagues for your dedication. As we continue in this Year of Celebrating Social Service Partners, we want to acknowledge your contributions, and celebrate partnerships. 

14. Moving forward, as we forge deeper partnerships across sectors, may our various efforts – the initiatives pioneered by various FSCs, combined with Government support, the work of corporates and community partners, come together to better serve those in need among us. 

15. Indeed, we have much to be proud about. In Singapore, FSCs, the Government, and the community, partner one another, and work in sync to do the best for our fellow citizens. Government supports social services, and ensures the delivery of quality services nationwide. Social service professionals harness their diverse expertise, to serve those in need. In this way, we are able to address the needs of our society consistently, and ensure sustained impact. I invite more to share about our unique Singapore approach, so that others can learn from our experience.

16. Let us work as one, to create a Singapore, where no one is left behind. I wish you an enjoyable, and meaningful session ahead. Thank you.