Monday, 29 February 2016

National policies will adopt more inclusive approach: Tan Chuan-Jin

Next Enabling Masterplan to ensure initiatives include people with special needs
By Priscilla Goy, The Sunday Times, 28 Feb 2016

National policies and schemes, such as SkillsFuture and Smart Nation, will adopt a more inclusive approach towards people with disabilities.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said yesterday that the next Enabling Masterplan - a blueprint on programmes for people with disabilities - should ensure that national initiatives cater to all Singaporeans, including those with special needs.

The current five-year masterplan ends this year. Mr Tan said his ministry is putting together a committee to start the development of the next masterplan, and will announce details of who is in the committee.

Government initiatives such as the SkillsFuture movement to boost skill levels and promote lifelong learning, and the Smart Nation drive of using technology to improve people's lives, should be just as relevant for people with disabilities, said Mr Tan.

"After all, skills development and technology adoption can be effective enablers. They make a tremendous difference to people with disabilities, to help them realise their potential... and contribute back to society to the best of their abilities."

Mr Tan was speaking at the We Are Able! 2016 event, organised by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). It was held at Marina Bay Sands and aimed to celebrate the abilities and contributions of people with disabilities. The event was attended by about 400 people.

Mr Tan said there had been progress made in supporting people with disabilities and their caregivers - such as making more community facilities and public transport services disabled-friendly, and helping people with disabilities improve their career prospects.

But there were still gaps, he noted. For instance, businesses could play a more active role in giving job opportunities to people with special needs and greater public understanding is still needed.

"While we can have accessible carpark lots for people with disabilities who need to commute by car, these lots will never be put to their intended use if able-bodied drivers continue to park in these lots," he said.

NCSS recently rolled out a public education initiative about the use of accessible carpark lots, and will launch an islandwide disability awareness campaign later this year.

In a separate event yesterday, a family carnival was organised by the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), to mark the launch of its 20th-anniversary celebrations.

The group also earned a spot in the Singapore Book of Records, for the most number of people assembling kites together.

More than 660 people were involved in making the kites. The kite in the association's logo symbolises the hopes of its beneficiaries to soar to greater heights.

NCSS shared initiatives to support persons with disabilites (PWDs) at the We Are Able! 2016 event held today. The...
Posted by NCSS Singapore on Saturday, February 27, 2016

More help to get jobs for people with disabilities
Govt sets aside $5m in funds, creates online HR guides for potential employers
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 27 Feb 2016

Employers, providers of transition- to-employment programmes, and people with disabilities will get more help for a shared goal: helping people with disabilities get jobs. Companies seeking to hire people with disabilities can refer to new online human resource (HR) guides.

Out of an existing $30 million fund, $5 million has now been set aside for programmes which help people with disabilities enter jobs.

And a comprehensive plan will be drawn up to help them gain skills, as part of the Government's SkillsFuture movement.

"We're investing in the education and skills of all our citizens throughout their lives, and that must include persons with disabilities," said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, announcing the moves last night at the inaugural Inclusive Business Forum.

The first of four online HR management guides relating to employees with disabilities, drawn up by government agency SG Enable, was launched at the forum.

It covers inclusive recruitment and hiring practices.

The next three, to be released over the course of the year, will cover assistive and accessible technology; advancement and retention; and creating accommodating jobs and workplaces.

The guides will be available at a new disability employment portal,, also launched at the forum. The website brings together information on aspects of employment for people with disabilities, from student internships to training.

The $5 million of the existing $30 million Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative has been set aside for "transition-to-employment" programmes.

The grant is open to voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) or other groups which are designing programmes to prepare people with disabilities for employment.

For the workers themselves, the Government is working on a comprehensive plan to help them benefit from the SkillsFuture movement for lifelong learning.

SG Enable and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency will work with VWOs, employers and people with disabilities to come up with this plan.

It will include a dedicated category of SkillsFuture Study Awards for individuals with disabilities who are role models, as well as for job coaches and other professionals who support people with disabilities.

Details will be announced later.

One worker who has not been held back by his disability is Mr Goh Ta Lang, 25, a draftsman at architectural social enterprise BIM Studio. Mr Goh, who has cerebral palsy, takes architectural plans from 2D drawings and transfers them into advanced 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM) software.

Mr Goh became interested in architecture after being inspired by a local drama serial with an architect as its protagonist.

"With this job, I am closer to my dream," he said.

Momentum is building! Over 160 employer participants attended the inaugural Inclusive Business Forum to encourage...
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Friday, February 26, 2016

* New roadmap for people with disabilities: Third Enabling Masterplan
Committee to develop 5-year plan to focus on more employment help, caregivers' support
By Seow Bei Yi, THe Sunday Times, 3 Apr 2016

Greater inclusiveness for people with disabilities and more support for their caregivers.

These will be part of the focus of the third Enabling Masterplan - a blueprint to guide the development of policies, programmes, services and other support for those with disabilities. A 22-member committee to develop the five-year plan was announced yesterday by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru.

Chaired by Ms Anita Fam, a board member of the National Council of Social Service, it comprises people from the public and private sectors, including people with disabilities and caregivers. They include Ms Chia Yong Yong, president of voluntary welfare organisation SPD, which supports people with disabilities, and Ms Denise Phua, president of the Autism Resource Centre.

The third masterplan will look into a more seamless transition through stages in life - within the education system and towards employment - for people with disabilities. It will also look into support for caregivers.

2 Apr was another important step forward for the disability community. We have progressed much under the past two...
Posted by Tan Chuan-Jin on Saturday, April 2, 2016

"Even if you help with employment, that makes a lot of difference (to families)," said Mr Tan. Individuals may be left without a job after completing school, leaving families "stretched", he added.

Ms Fam believes more can be done to ensure caregivers know of the avenues of help available, by having resources that are more easily obtainable.

There is also a need to alleviate their worry that no one will be around to care for their loved ones if they are no longer around.

Mr Keh Eng Song, chief executive officer of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled Singapore, said: "Caregiver support will be increasingly important because we want them to be empowered, and not be dependent on service providers all the time."

Mr Tan also reiterated the need to incorporate national policies and schemes, such as SkillsFuture and Smart Nation, into the new plan.

For example, under SkillsFuture - a movement to boost skill levels and promote lifelong learning - new modules will be developed for people with disabilities.

"Some of the employers have specific needs, therefore we develop specific training modules so that those with disabilities are trained and can move in quite seamlessly to their jobs as well," Mr Tan said.

The masterplan will build on the progress made by previous plans.

This includes making more community facilities and public transport services more friendly for those with disabilities, and improving their career prospects.

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