Partnering Singaporeans to build a caring democracy of deeds
Speech by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Communications and Information at the Committee of Supply Debate 2020
06 March 2020
- Mr Chairman, Singapore Together is our commitment to partner Singaporeans to build a “democracy of deeds,” as Deputy Prime Minister Heng shared last year.
- The past weeks have shown how much we have grown as a democracy of deeds, with many rising to the occasion and having contributed to the common good amidst our ongoing fight against COVID-19.
- Last month, Team Singapore bowlers packed and distributed masks and hand sanitisers to seniors in Clementi. Others showed appreciation for our unsung heroes. Ms Lim Sio Yen and Mr Ernest Koh Jun Ming set up video booths at various malls inviting people to record messages of support for those working in sectors such as healthcare, transport and security. We are heartened by such initiatives, and want to inspire more. This is why we introduced SG United, a one-stop portal to volunteer, donate, start and share community-led initiatives in response to COVID-19.
- We believe that many who have made the first step of giving will continue to do so, inspiring others along the way. Over time, our society will grow as a community of open hearts and helping hands. This matters because no one – not the Government, the private, or people sector – has a monopoly on good ideas. We can only find the best solutions to build a better future we all share, through partnership.
Partnering youth to co-create our future
Youth’s vision for future Singapore
- Let me start with our youths.
- In 2019, youths such as Greta Thunberg, made global headlines. In Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon, Sudan, young people were at the forefront of civic protests and calls for change. Policymakers and thinkers pondered how youths are different, and what that means for the future.
- In Singapore and at MCCY, we began the process of engaging youths in 2018, with the Youth Conversations, a safe space for youths to talk about their aspirations and concerns. Like their elders, youths care deeply about their families, and have the drive to succeed. There are also topics where they have a different outlook. If we don’t listen to or work closely with our youths, these differences will lead to miscommunication, frustration, and divergence. Youths are also keen to move from conversation to action. These insights spurred us to refine our engagement approach to emphasise scale and more tangible impact. Our new approach has three key aspects.
- First, we supported youths in envisioning and actualising their ideas. Last May, we launched a national platform for youths to articulate and achieve their vision for Singapore in 2025: the SG Youth Action Plan. Mr Yam asked for a progress update on the SG Youth Action Plan, and what youths can look forward to this year. Since the SG Youth Action Plan’s launch, we reached out to over 400,000 youths, and engaged close to 70,000 of them through digital engagement, public roadshows and focus group discussions. This is our most ambitious youth engagement exercise yet.
- A diverse Panel of youth leaders compiled thousands of youth voices into a draft vision of what youths hope to see in our near future. And here is what it says:
“Before we change the world, we must first change ourselves.
We may not always get it right, but with hard work, compassion and determination, we’ll foster an inclusive, sustainable and progressive Singapore. We’ll create a home where Singaporeans care for one another, and have a fair shot at their dreams.
2025, we’re coming for you!”
- The draft youth vision conveys youth priorities, and provides us with a positive sense of what Singapore’s future will look like when the youths of today become the movers and shakers of tomorrow. We invite youths to help us refine this vision further.
- We have already begun empowering youths with information, resources, and networks to turn their ideas into reality. This is the purpose of the Youth Action Challenge, or YAC. The inaugural YAC saw 250 youth participants in 57 teams consult industry experts and policymakers to prototype ideas on the themes of environment, society and jobs. I witnessed some of these teams’ pitches in January, and was impressed by their passion. Allow me to share 2 examples:
- Team Movement of Inclusivity is keen to help frontline staff in public spaces better assist persons with hidden disabilities. Another team, Team ASEAN Business Youth Association, wants our youths to become more ASEAN-savvy. So they built a prototype platform offering regional networking opportunities for youths.
- While the top teams will present their proposals at the YAC Summit next month for up to $50,000 of funding, NYC will help all 57 teams to implement their ideas. There will also be further editions of the YAC for youths to drive change on new themes that they care about.
- The SG Youth Action Plan will also focus on championing youth concerns. The Panel partnered the Youth Alliance on Mental Health to call for more whole-of society action in reducing stigma, strengthening peer support, and tackling workplace discrimination. Following such feedback, TAFEP has taken steps to advise employers against asking job applicants about their mental health history when there is no relevance. The recently announced Youth Mental Well-being Network will build on the work of the SG YAP to co-create solutions with our youths and different segments of society. I am excited by the progress made and I look forward to more areas in which our youths will make a difference.
Opportunities to re-shape spaces
- The second aspect of our new approach is to create more opportunities for youths to re-shape Singapore’s spaces. Youths have helped to co-create the Somerset Belt Masterplan, which SPS Baey will share more about later this month, including how youths can enliven the Belt through their own initiatives.
- Youths can also look forward to co-creating and co-owning the youth hub within Kallang Alive!, a sporting and lifestyle destination from our sports blueprint, Vision 2030. Our youths are energetic, and have an edgier take on sports and the arts. The youth hub will be a space for such dynamism. Details of engagements with youths will be shared later this year.
Sustained engagement, action and development
- The third way we are approaching youth engagement differently is through NYC. NYC will be a conduit for youth voices by expanding its digital engagement channels so more diverse segments of youths can provide candid feedback. It will also build its capabilities to support public agencies in identifying emerging youth needs. We are also experimenting with ways for youth leaders to directly engage agencies on specific policy issues where they have relevant expertise.
- NYC will also be an incubator of youth action. Youths will receive greater support, through NYC’s curated leadership development and business exposure opportunities.
- Mr Chairman, in Mandarin.
Growing volunteerism and volunteer development
- Back to English, Mr Chairman. Volunteerism is an important means of realising our youths’ vision of a caring and inclusive society. Everyone has a part to play – not just youths, but seniors, corporates and the Government. Let me update on our efforts under each sector.
- Let me start with youth volunteerism. Last year, Youth Corps Singapore launched Programme X, X standing for multiplier, to equip youths to start impactful community projects and lead their peers in turn. Over 400 youths from ITEs, Polytechnics and Universities have taken part in Programme X. Sky Tai, a student from ITE College West, was one of them. Following the programme, he designed and ran 8 weekly arts sessions for seniors at SASCO Home in Hong San together with his teammates. Programme X enabled him to hone his leadership capabilities, and deepened his resolve to serve the community. YCS is also working with our SG Cares Volunteer Centres to promote youth volunteerism and grow youth volunteer networks in the neighbourhoods.
- Seniors also wish to remain socially active and engaged in their retirement years. To reach out to more pre-retirees at their workplaces, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RSVP Singapore last year. With the MoU, RSVP aims to reach out to 30,000 seniors in its first year and match them to suitable volunteering opportunities.
- A new Team Nila Silver Champions Scheme will also provide seniors with regular volunteering opportunities at ActiveSG Sports Centres. This includes training alongside Team Nila youths to serve as ActiveSG ambassadors to promote sport and exercise together. Seniors will also receive training through SportSG and WSQ courses.
- On the corporate volunteerism front, NVPC and Comchest formed a closer partnership last year to help corporates access resources more easily and find better matches to volunteering opportunities. Over 30 corporates have been referred to our SG Cares Volunteer Centres to link up with community organisations for volunteering opportunities.
SG Cares community network and volunteer centres
- Mr Saktiandi Supaat and Mr Henry Kwek asked for an update on our SG Cares Volunteer Centres. Last year, 4 were established in Kreta Ayer, Toa Payoh, Boon Lay and Woodlands. This year, 8 others will be appointed at Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Geylang, Jalan Besar, Tampines and Yishun. Our aim is to establish a SG Cares Volunteer Centre in each town.
- As ‘community brokers’, our SG Cares Volunteer Centres form partnerships with organisations such as schools to channel their volunteers to community organisations in a mutually beneficial way. They also assist community partners’ with volunteer management, through efforts such as holding joint volunteer training sessions for community partners that may not have the capacity or the know-how to do so.
- We have been working closely with several SSAs such as Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre and Filos Community Services to helm our SG Cares Volunteer Centres in Jurong East and Bedok respectively. Over the past 2 years, these SSAs forged over a hundred partnerships with corporates, schools and other SSAs. We commend their hard work, and invite more community-based organisations to partner us.
Empowering all through sport
Disability Sports Master Plan and SportCares
- Care is also manifested by ensuring that spaces are inclusive, and providing opportunities for all to enjoy pursuits such as sports. Ms Yip asked about updates to our Disability Sports Master Plan, DSMP. She shared suggestions to expand play opportunities for persons with disabilities, and build partnerships to promote inclusivity in sport.
- The three key thrusts of the DSMP remain relevant and we are making progress on these recommendations. We currently have eight inclusive and senior-friendly gyms with equipment suitable for use by all, including persons with disabilities. SportSG plans to retrofit three more gyms each year over the next three years. By 2026, all ActiveSG gyms in Singapore will be inclusive and senior-friendly.
- We will continue to work with community partners on inclusive programmes. We are expanding events such as Play Inclusive, an inclusive sports competition, to offer more opportunities for persons of different abilities and special needs to train and compete in sports together. We are also supporting Goalball Singapore to bring sighted and low-vision students to play sports together.
- A Communities of Care grant has been introduced to support ideas to uplift the vulnerable and under-served through sport. We are disbursing $600,000 to support 18 community projects and 31 SportCares bursary recipients this year. SSAs are welcome to apply. SportSG also offers guidance to staff of SSAs to introduce inclusive sport activities.
- We are developing two frameworks to guide Special Education schools and SSAs on cultivating a lifelong enjoyment of physical activities for their students and clients. The adaptive swim framework focuses on teaching basic swimming and water safety competencies and the Fitness 1-2-3 framework focuses on imparting strength and conditioning knowledge.
- The DSMP also provides opportunities to participate in High Performance Sports, as Ms Yip suggested. Individuals with potential from ActiveSG and community sports programmes are referred to the Singapore Disability Sport Council and the National Disability Sports Associations for further development and training. The Singapore Sport Institute (SSI) also provides facilities, funding and specialist support for para athletes preparing for Major Games.
- I thank Ms Yip for her suggestions to build on the momentum of the DSMP. We will follow up with her on her ideas.
Charities – stronger governance and capabilities
- We also want to support our charities and encourage giving through this time while we are all fighting COVID-19 as one. Donations to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) will continue to be matched via the Bicentennial Community Fund until December 2020, from March 2020 previously.
- This year, we are also introducing sector-specific digital solutions for smaller charities to operate more efficiently and more securely. These solutions aim to reduce administrative burdens, improve productivity and provide higher protection against cyber threats. Charities will also receive a digitalisation toolkit to expand their digital knowledge and capabilities.
- We are also simplifying the process of searching for charities’ information on our Charity Portal to help donors make informed giving choices. Each charity’s profile page, starting with those that are IPCs, will feature information about how well the IPC is governed, for example, its level of regulatory compliance. We will be engaging charities and the public on what information should be shared, and how it can be presented in a useful way later this year.
Leaving a legacy for the next generation
- The giving culture is strong in Singapore, and we want to sustain and grow it further by encouraging those interested to give through a new national legacy giving initiative, developed in partnership with CFS.
- Legacy giving refers to a planned, future gift that designates a portion of a person’s assets as a donation to charity. Examples of such assets include cash and insurance policies. Our goal is to foster a giving mind-set, where planned gifts to charity become more common and more frequent.
- This is not just about bestowing financial assets. Legacy giving also imparts values such as kindness, compassion, and generosity, which are far more precious and lasting than assets alone.
- Acts of care and contribution go a long way, especially in these challenging times. Mr Chairman, MCCY will continue to pursue partnerships to uplift those in need, and nurture an active citizenry. Together, we can build a democracy of deeds as our legacy to future generations.
- Thank you.
Last updated on 06 March 2020