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MSF working with social service agencies to better deal with family violence cases

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is working with social service agencies to develop a common assessment and intervention framework to deal with cases of family violence, said its Minister of State Sun Xueling in Parliament on Wednesday (Jan 12).

"This framework will enable frontline professionals to better identify family violence cases, make timely referrals and facilitate discussion of cases across agencies where relevant, and support the agencies in managing the risks and addressing needs of both survivors and perpetrators," Ms Sun said.

She was responding to questions by three Members of Parliament who asked about the support available to victims and whether authorities can take a more proactive approach towards preventing family violence.

A government task force on family violence said last year that there has been a steady increase in the number of enquiries and new cases on family violence received by social service centres.

There were 1,103 new cases taken up in FY2020 by family violence specialist centres and the PAVE Integrated Service for Individual and Family Protection Specialist Centre, an increase from 966 in FY2019 and 891 in FY2018, according to a report by the task force.


On Wednesday, Ms Sun said that MSF works closely with the community-based family violence specialist centres (FVSCs) and PAVE to provide support to people who experience any form of violence regardless of gender.

These include safety planning to reduce the risk of violence reoccurring, facilitating alternative safe accommodation for survivors and supporting them through the personal protection order application process.

Beyond addressing immediate safety risks, the centres also provide counselling to survivors such as those who experience trauma as a result of the violence. 

“There are also various support and therapeutic groups run by the community, including FVSCs and PAVE for survivors of family or sexual violence to speak about their experiences in a safe and supportive environment,” Ms Sun said. 

Survivors who have mental health or trauma needs are also able to seek services from professionals in restructured hospitals, including those with specialised trauma clinics, she added.

MSF will continue strengthening support for families who have experienced trauma due to family violence, as recommended by the task force, Ms Sun said.

“We will cater for forensic-trained psychologists at each of the FVSCs and PAVE to enable them to work more effectively with survivors and perpetrators,” she added.

"This includes addressing trauma and mental health concerns, providing assessment and intervention to identify and address risk factors and needs relevant to the perpetrators’ abusive behaviour. and working with the social workers to engage in safety planning for survivors.

“Taken together, the assessment, intervention, and safety planning can help to reduce the risk of repeated violence."

There are currently three family violence specialist centres. Two of them, Care Corner Project StART and PAVE, are already able to provide comprehensive social and emotional support including counselling and other interventions for survivors of all forms of intra- and extra-familial violence, including sexual violence, Ms Sun said.

She added that MSF is working with the third centre, TRANS SAFE, to enhance its capability and capacity to provide "similar comprehensive support" to survivors of sexual harassment and violence in the second half of this year. 

In response to a supplementary question from MP Carrie Tan (PAP-Nee Soon) on manpower for such centres, Ms Sun said that MSF is prepared to increase the capacity of these facilities as a whole, to be able to effectively help survivors and perpetrators of family violence.

Source: CNA/ja(gs)