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Speech by Parliamentary Secretary Eric Chua at the Acronis x HCSA Community Services Computer Classroom Official Opening Ceremony

Type: Official Speeches (All), Official Speeches: Eric Chua

Topic(s): Rehabilitation

Mr Edmund Cheng, Chairman of Yellow Ribbon Fund

Mr Yeo Jih-Shian, Vice President of HCSA Board

Mr Pasha Ershow, Senior Vice President, Acronis

Ladies and Gentlemen

I.          Introduction

1.          A very good morning to one and all.

2.          I am very happy to be here, to officiate the opening ceremony for the computer classroom at HCSA Highpoint Halfway House.

II.          Reducing Recidivism through Enhancing Employability

3.          According to data from the Singapore Prison Service, the two-year recidivism rate for the 2020 release cohort is about 20%. It is amongst the lowest globally. Many of you in this hall today and in the rest of the community have played a pivotal part in this work, working alongside the Government to keep recidivism rates low. So a big thank you for all of your commitment and dedication to this very important piece of work.

4.          But when we take a longer-term view, the five-year recidivism rate is higher, at around 40%. We aim to do better, to reduce this further, and to help more ex-offenders walk further down their journey of reintegration.

5.          To do this, the Government has taken an ecosystem approach and looks at various areas. We need to enhance ex-offenders’ employability, strengthen social support, increase community acceptance, and at the same time, build partnerships with the community.

6.          One of the critical aspects I mentioned is employability. It is a key component in rehabilitation and for re-integration into society. With financial stability, ex-offenders will be in a better place to rebuild their lives, take care of themselves and their families and their loved ones, and contribute back to society.

7.          Our goal, therefore, is to help our ex-offenders find their footing, find gainful and long-term employment. And we will place emphasis on helping them upskill themselves and enhance their employment potential.

III.          Helping Ex-Offenders Enhance Their Digital Skills

8.          As businesses keep up with increasing adoption of technology, it becomes therefore a norm, for employers to look at basic digital skills as a baseline requirement.

9.          We must therefore help our ex-offenders upskill and gain confidence on the IT front. In an increasingly competitive job market, being digital literate will enhance the employability of our ex-offenders, and open doors of opportunities for them.

10.         I am happy to see that HCSA Community Services, Acronis, a global technology company and the Yellow Ribbon Fund have come together, to do precisely just that.

11.         Acronis Cyber Foundation has been a strong supporter of the Yellow Ribbon cause.

a.         In 2018, Acronis pledged $500,000 to the Yellow Ribbon Fund to support the digital upskilling of our ex-offenders, over a period of 10 years.

b.         In 2022, Acronis launched the first computer classroom at Jamiyah Halfway House.

c.         I am pleased to share that Acronis has set up a second computer classroom, this time right here at HCSA Highpoint Halfway House.

12.         The new computer classroom will feature in Highpoint’s enhanced aftercare programme, helping our ex-offenders upskill and find employment. It is an important enabler as they embark on their re-integration and rebuild their lives as contributing citizens.

IV.          Coming Together to Help Our Ex-Offenders Re-Integrate into Society

13.         When we look at these community-led initiatives, we can see two fundamental aspects of our rehabilitation and reintegration strategy.

14.         First, strong partnership across all segments of society. This is critical for the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of our ex-offenders.

a.         Today’s partnership between Acronis, HCSA and the Yellow Ribbon Fund sets a perfect and good example for everyone to emulate. It shows how we can co-create new opportunities for our ex-offenders, and in doing so, benefit society in long-term, sustainable ways.

b.         We must continue to strengthen the ecosystem of support in our community, across all stakeholder groups – be it Government, community, and corporates.

15.         Second, helping our ex-offenders see that this is an inclusive society, one where all of us care, truly care for each other as fellow human beings, and when we are working on this cause, all hands are on-deck to help them reintegrate into society, and lead better lives.

a.         Because it is only with community support that our ex-offenders can get the help they need, to overcome challenges and embark on a new chapter of their lives.

b.         To our ex-offenders, we encourage you to do your part to join these programmes, to open new doors of opportunities for yourselves and for your loved ones.

V.          Conclusion

16.         In conclusion, I would like to thank once again all of you for having played a part in this very meaningful journey and scope of work. I want to thank the various stakeholder groups – Acronis, Yellow Ribbon Fund, many big-hearted corporates as well as volunteers, who have been a part of this very meaningful journey. I know this is work that probably sees no end in itself, but I hope that all of us can continue to have all hands on deck, and be a part of this very meaningful cause.

17.         On that note, thank you very much.