MP Dennis Tan

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) how many cases are reported to the Adult Protective Service and the Child Protective Service in each year between 2020 and 2022 respectively; (b) how effective has the Strengthening Families Programme @ FSCs been so far since its inception, especially in reducing potential cases requiring the assistance of the Adult Protective Service and the Child Protective Service; and (c) what have been the most effective steps taken in preventing new cases of family violence or abuse.

The Minister of State for Social and Family Development (Ms Sun Xueling) (for the Minister for Social and Family Development): Mr Speaker, Sir, the number of inquiries received by the Adult Protective Service (APS) and the Child Protective Service is available on MSF’s website.

For the year 2020, there were 1,196 enquiries received by APS; and in 2021, it was 1,948. For enquiries received by the Child Protective Service, this was 5,223 in 2020; and 6,513 in 2021.

I would like to add that these numbers are elevated compared to the pre-COVID-19 years of 2017 to 2019. Also, that these enquiries, given that several of them may be general enquiries, may not involve actual incidences of family violence.

There is increased awareness on family and domestic violence through our public education campaigns, such as the “Break the Silence” campaign. And also, there are more channels of reporting of suspected abuse or neglect, following the launch of the 24-hour National Anti-Violence and Sexual Harassment Helpline (NAVH) in February 2021. MSF’s Strengthening Families Programme at Family Service Centre, or FAM@FSC for short, supports couples who may face greater challenges in their marriage and families showing early signs of stress. Not all of these family cases involve violence or abuse.

The activities at FAM@FSCs include marriage and divorce support programmes, family counselling service for family relationship issues, including mental, financial, parent-child issues, and ageing and extended families. As such, they may not involve incidences of violence or abuse.

Where further support is required, families are referred to other services, such as Protection Specialist Centres and Family Service Centres.

Tackling family violence requires a multi-pronged approach. I had mentioned that we invest in public education campaigns, such as the “Break the Silence” campaign.

Second, we help professionals and volunteers in the community to better detect family violence through training.

Third, Social Service Offices and social service agencies reach out to families who may have a higher risk of experiencing family violence and refer them to appropriate services.

Fourth, we inculcate in the young positive behaviours that build healthy and respectful relationships through age-appropriate material.

Lastly, we help couples who may require greater support, such as young couples, to build a strong marriage foundation through marriage preparation programmes. Such programmes help couples understand better how they can build healthy relationship skills, how to resolve conflict amicably and reasonably, and be more aware of family violence and how to seek help.

The multi-stakeholder Taskforce on Family Violence, which I co-chair, was set up in February 2020. We had proposed a comprehensive set of recommendations to tackle the various aspects of family violence, from upstream prevention and detection, to various efforts to ensure the protection of survivors, to increasing the accountability, as well as the rehabilitation, of perpetrators.

The Government has accepted, in principle, all the task force’s recommendations in October 2021. We are progressively implementing these recommendations.

Ministry of Social and Family Development
10 January 2023

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