By Student Blogger Ian Goh
The Centre for Social Development Asia (CSDA, NUS) and the Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVe) held their inaugural joint-symposium last Thursday, on the 21st of October, entitled “Emerging Trends of Family Violence in Singapore: Reflecting, Connecting, Paving New Frontiers”.
Over 200 guests and dignitaries from the Singapore Police Force, the Ministry of Community Development, various hospitals, community hubs and volunteer organisations gathered at the NUS Shaw Foundation Alumni House to discuss the prevalence of domestic family violence—a rising issue within the local community.
Among those in attendance was Guest of Honour, Dr Maliki Osman, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of National Development, and also Honorary Advisor to PAVe’s Managing Committee.
“[This symposium] provides a platform for professionals in health-care, social, and government services, to share, consolidate, and learn from one other’s experiences in managing and preventing family violence,” he said in his opening address.
PAVe, a joint-organiser of the Symposium, reflected on a decade of their history and operations, which include preventive and developmental programmes to discourage violence at home, together with public education of both parents and their children, in dealing with these issues.
In a 2002 World Health Organization (WHO) report, over 199,000 youths were killed in cases of interpersonal disputes. In Singapore, the incidents of child abuse (aged 0-4 years old) have also steadily increased in the years 2006 to 2009, as shared by Dr Angelina Chan, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at Changi General Hospital, and one of three speakers who presented their findings at the symposium.
Paper topics also included “Breaking Barriers: Understanding Immigrants Affected by Domestic Violence in Singapore”, as well as a paper presentation by our Faculty’s own Dr Sudha Nair, Deputy Head of the Department of Social Work in NUS, whose paper titled “Bridging Troubled Waters: The Case for Community Cooperation”, spoke on the need for greater coordination and communication between members of the community of care-givers.
“CSDA’s mandate is to work with the community. The involvement with PAVe was our first with a voluntary welfare organisation. And yes, we do hope to develop more links and projects together,” she shared, on the Department’s long history with community organisations like PAVe.
Finally, members of the audience then signed up for one of three Break-Out Groups—or discussion groups, where they shared about their experiences in the industry, some of the challenges they faced, and how the lessons from the Symposium that day benefited their line of work.
Furthermore, over 15 NUS students from the Department of Social Work and other faculties had the opportunity to rub shoulders with these health-care professionals, while engaging in discussion on the rising trend of domestic violence in Singapore.
Says Deborah Yap, an undergraduate minor-ing in Social Work, “I think it’s very important that this issue be made known to the public—perhaps it can be prevented in that way.”
When asked on her thoughts on the Symposium, she reflected, “It raises awareness of what was taught in our various classes, and it really inspires us to see all these professionals already passionately working in the field. Overall it was a meaningful event, and I’m glad I came down.”