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Singapore government to spend USS$281 million yearly to get disabled job-ready

Existing scheme to be expanded along with the setting up of a new support centre for caregivers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 11:42am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 11:47am

By Alfred Chua

More help will be given to those in Singapore with moderate intellectual, as well as multiple, disabilities in the form of training programmes to prepare them for employment, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget statement yesterday.

Currently, under the School-to-Work Transition Programme, special education graduands with mild intellectual disabilities, as well as those with autism, are matched to special training programmes to prepare them for work. These will be now be expanded to include those with moderate intellectual and multiple disabilities.

To provide support for caregivers of persons living with disabilities, Mr Heng said a disability caregiver support centre would be set up, offering information, training, as well as peer support groups.

The centre will also partner voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) to pilot programmes aimed at caregivers of persons newly diagnosed with disabilities, said Mr Heng.

The Government is expected to spend some S$400 million (US$281 million) per year on these measures, including existing initiatives.

Highlighting the Government’s efforts to “foster a caring and inclusive society”, Mr Heng noted that the third Enabling Masterplan had put forward recommendations to “better integrate persons with disabilities into the workforce, and give more support to their caregivers”.

The recommendations were unveiled by a 22-member steering committee last December. It made 20 broad proposals, revolving around improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities, supporting caregivers, building the community, and fostering an inclusive society.

The Social and Family Development Ministry will respond to the committee’s recommendations during the Committee of Supply debate later.

Meanwhile, the authorities will also focus on helping those with mental health conditions, including dementia.

Mr Heng told the House that more resources will be provided to VWOs in the setting up of community-based teams, which will provide support for those in need of help as well as educate the public on mental health issues.

The Ministry of Health will also provide mental health care services in polyclinics.

The National Council for Social Services will also spearhead efforts to integrate persons with mental health issues into the workplace and in society, said Mr Heng.

The Government will spend an additional S$160 million (US$112 million) over the next five years as part of community mental-health efforts.

Mr Victor Tay, president of the Association for Persons with Special Needs, said the measures to help caregivers were a step in the right direction. Noting that many caregivers are saddled with a huge responsibility, he said, “Having a centre and focal point where they can (learn from each other) and give each other support … is a good step … towards (fostering) an inclusive society.”

Govt to spend S$400m yearly to get disabled job-ready