The Enabling Masterplans (EMPs) have been a collective effort amongst government agencies, private sector and people sector, including persons with disabilities, disability organisations, and Social Service Agencies (SSAs).
The EMPs define "persons with disability" as those with substantially reduced prospects of securing, retaining places and advancing in education and training, employment and recreation, due to physical, intellectual, and sensory impairments, as well as developmental needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder. This definition was endorsed in 2004 by the first EMP Steering Committee, which comprised representatives of the disability, private and public sectors. The design and implementation of Singapore’s disability schemes and services are guided by this definition.
The EMPs’ recommendations were drafted through a ground-up approach through numerous initiatives and engagements. These recommendations aim to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers.
Read on to find out more about key engagement events that have contributed to the Enabling Masterplan!
In 2006, the Government identified a need for greater inclusivity in society, and set up a Steering Committee1
consisting of representatives from the public and government agencies, to draft and adopt the First Enabling Masterplan (EMP1) (2007 – 2011). The Steering Committee sought the views of persons with disabilities, families, social service agencies, professionals and practitioners in the field. They conducted the following thematic consultations:
- On early intervention and education, a series of focus group discussions involving 261 participants were conducted. They included parents of children with special needs, persons with disabilities, and professionals including special education school principals, teachers, therapists and social workers.
- On employment, a series of employer focus group discussions were conducted, involving a total of 26 employers from seven industries. The committee also gathered feedback through an online survey conducted by the Singapore Human Resource Institute (SHRI). 43 companies participated in the survey, of which 18 employed more than 250 persons.
- On the needs of caregivers, the committee consulted caregivers and service providers, and considered the report of the Parents Workgroup for enhancing the financial security of Persons with Special needs, which was released in October 2006.
- On community-based residential services, focus group discussions with persons of disabilities were conducted to gather their views on existing services, and to anticipate future needs.
In 2011, the Government set up a cross-sectoral Steering Committee
to develop the Second Enabling Masterplan (2012 – 2016)
. The Steering Committee included representatives from social service agencies as well as the private and public sectors2
. The Committee conducted the following consultations:
- To gather feedback on early intervention for children with developmental needs, a series of focus group discussions were conducted with persons of disabilities, their families and social service agencies. The Centre for Enabled Living (CEL)3 also set up an online platform for the public to provide their feedback for consideration by the Committee.
- To better understand the needs of students with special education needs (SEN), focus group discussions involving 20 leaders in Special Education, 16 parents with children of pre-schooling age and 22 parents with children of school going age were conducted.
- On employment, focus group discussions were held with 20 persons with disabilities who were either seeking or in open employment. Consultation sessions were also conducted with Social Service Agencies (SSAs).
- On care services for adults with disabilities, numerous stakeholder consultation sessions were held with persons with disabilities, their parents and caregivers and members of the social service sector.
- On caregiver support and transition management, a series of focus group discussions were held with 16 caregivers with children of pre-school age, 22 caregivers with children of school-going age and 43 caregivers of adults with disabilities. In addition, CEL also set up an online platform for caregivers to provide their feedback for consideration by the Committee.
Engagements at international platforms with the international community.
On 30 November 2012, Singapore signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Singapore ratified the convention on 18 July 2013.
1 Please refer to pages 123-131 of the First Enabling Masterplan (EMP1) for the list of members of the EMP1 Steering Committee.
2 Refer to Annex 1-2a of the Second Enabling Masterplan for a list of the Steering Committee’s members.
3 The Centre for Enabled Living (CEL) was a first-stop centre for the elderly and persons with disabilities and caregivers. The CEL was renamed SG Enable in 2013.
- Singapore is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities have the same rights as everbody else and assumes the responsibility of protecting the interests of persons with disabilities in areas highlighted within the agreement.
- On 13 July 2016, Singapore submitted its initial report to the CRPD. The initial report highlighted the collaborative effort of Government agencies, social service agencies and other partners in making Singapore a caring and inclusive society.
Three thematic cross-sectoral workgroups to look into key areas of inclusive pre-schools, employment and independent living
As part of the continuing efforts under the Third Enabling Masterplan, MSF established three thematic cross-sectoral workgroups in 2019, which included representatives of disability organisations, preschools, public agencies and private sector partners.
The three cross sectoral workgroups are:
The workgroups released their recommendations on 14 April 2021. Click here for the media release.
Engagement sessions to co-ideate, co-design, and co-implement solutions.
From September 2019 – June 2020, MSF organised the first phase of engagement sessions under the Third Enabling Masterplan (EMP3) Workgroups.
- This series of engagements were held to better understand the experiences, hopes and aspirations of persons with disabilities regarding employment and independent living.
- In total, close to 400 persons with disabilities, family members and caregivers, those who serve in the disability sector and other organisations, as well as members of the public participated in the engagement sessions.
- Various arrangements were put in place to meet participants’ accessibility needs, in consultation with disability stakeholders. This included providing point-to-point transport where necessary, circulation of questions ahead of time, using spacious and fully accessible venues, providing alternative modes of communication (verbal, tactile, visual), live scribing and sign language interpretation, as well as providing opportunities for participants to indicate if they have any additional accessibility needs ahead of the sessions.
- Feedback on the accessibility arrangements of the sessions were used to develop a guide on inclusive public engagement for public agencies.
- Additionally, in June 2020, about 900 parents responded to an online survey that ECDA had conducted to better understand parental views and attitudes towards inclusion in preschools.
Participants at the 2019 engagement sessions in discussion groups.
In November 2020, MSF organised a number of Singapore (SG) Together Emerging Stronger Conversation (ESC) engagements.
- The SG Together ESCs series was launched by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat in June 2020, inviting Singaporeans to share their reflections and aspirations for a post-COVID Singapore, 16.900 Singaporeans participated in the SG Together ESCs; find out more at the SG Together ESC online report.
- The SG Together ESCs are part of the SG Together movement, launched by DPM a year prior. SG Together is about Singaporeans working with one another, and with the government for our shared future.
- As part of MSF's series of virtual SG Together ESC engagements, participants shared their ideas for a more caring, cohesive, and resilient post-COVID 19 society. This was one of the several sources of feedback to form an inclusive response to COVID-19.
- In total, 120 persons with disabilities, family members, friends, and those who serve in the disability sector and members of the public participated in the ESCs. These included ex-participants from the 2019 engagement sessions, who were invited so that a summary of the earlier engagement findings and the EMP3 employment and independent workgroup recommendations could be shared with them.
Participants at the EMP ESC 2020 virtual engagement sessions.
In March 2021, MSF announced that a new SG Together Alliance for Action (AfA) for Caregivers of Persons with Disabilities will be formed by the National Council of Social Service, SG Enable and community partners.
- This initiative will complement the 3rd Enabling Masterplan, which highlighted the need to improve caregivers’ well-being and enhance their caregiving capabilities through the creation of more peer support and informal support networks.
- For a start, it will focus on developing solutions related to self-care and mutual support for caregivers.
- This AfA will allow for sustainable and effective partnerships through a structured approach, which in turn translates into more impactful actions and outcomes for those in need.
Engagements at international platforms with the international community.
Singapore supports the participation of persons with disabilities on the international stage.
- More than 130,000 government officials from over 170 countries have participated in the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), Singapore’s flagship technical assistance programme, run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Special arrangements were made to ensure their full participation in the programmes.
- Singapore also conducts an annual SCP course on “Empowering Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs” to share Singapore’s philosophy and multi-stakeholder approach to empower persons with disabilities.
In 2018, MSF, as focal point for the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), co-chaired the Task Force for the development of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025.
- The Enabling Masterplan was a joint effort by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), SOMSWD, and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), in consultation with all relevant sectoral bodies in the three ASEAN Community Pillars, as well as the wider civil society. The Masterplan was endorsed at the 33rd ASEAN Summit chaired by the Prime Minister of Singapore in November 2018.
On October 2018, MSF organised and chaired an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council Retreat in Singapore for ASCC Ministers to discuss the strategic direction and recommendations for the implementation of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025.
In September 2019, MSF, as then-Chair of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), organised the inaugural “Working Together: Public-Private-People Partnership Conference on the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025”.
In 2019 and 2020, Singapore served as Vice-President of the 12th and 13th Conferences of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- The conference brought together speakers and participants across the 3 ‘P’ sectors. They shared their experiences and sectoral perspectives, offered solutions to address challenges, and explored collaboration opportunities for the promotion of disability-inclusive development and empowerment of persons with disabilities in ASEAN.
- At the 12th COSP, Head of Delegation Minister of State Sam Tan co-chaired the Roundtable on Inclusion of Persons with disabilities in society through participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.
- At the 13th COSP, SG Enable's Director of Planning Ms Phyllis Choo participated as a panel speaker on the Roundtable on Disability and business: realising the right to work in open, inclusive and accessible environments for persons with disabilities.
- Singapore has also organised and supported disability-related side events at the COSPs as well as at the Human Rights Council (HRC).
In August 2020, Singapore co-hosted the virtual UN Global Forum on the COVID-19 crisis and persons with disabilities.
- SG Enable shared Singapore's efforts to support the disability community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Singapore was co-host alongside Ecuador, Hungary, and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (UNDESA).