Three distinguished alumni from the Department of Social Work – Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Dr S Vasoo and Mr Udhia Kumar – were the inaugural recipients of the Ann Wee NUS Social Work Alumni Award.
The Awards were given out on 22 September 2015 at an event held in conjunction with the annual Appreciation Tea for the Department’s Field Educators.
The Award, launched at the Faculty’s 85th Anniversary Dinner celebrations in November 2014, recognises alumni who have made major contributions to the social work education and practice.
It was also affectionately named after Mrs Ann Wee, the longest serving Head of Department of Social Work, who has inspired many with her selfless contributions to the sector. Dr Rosaleen Ow, Head of Department of Social Work, says, “the award is for alumni with a similar spirit to Mrs Wee who ‘serves without seeking rewards, give without seeking recognition’, in their work for more than 20 years.’”
One of the recipients, Ms Koh Wah Khoon, Senior Director at Singapore Children’s Society Family Service Centre (Yishun), dedicates her award to the people she has had the pleasure to work with namely Singapore Children’s Society, other social service practitioners, donors as well as supporters.
On her hopes for the social service sector in Singapore, Ms Wah Khoon acknowledges that social problems and sufferings will always be present in the society.
Despite that, she hopes the “social service sector would keep its ears to the ground so as to stay relevant to the changing needs of our people. That social service practitioners remember that social work is the gift of self, involving person to person transactions in order to bring about desired outcome for our clients.”
Dr S Vasoo, Associate Professorial Fellow at the Department, shares his sentiments about the sector as well. In essence, he feels that there is a need to adopt a more preventive and developmental approach while dealing with client populations as there is a tendency for social workers to take on a remedial approach instead.
“Such an orientation does not help to deal with the prevention of human breakdown,” he says.
He suggests that “It will be cogent for our human service professionals to help individuals and families to be inoculated with good human values, social skills and to be encouraged to acquire relevant industrial skills.”
Additionally, contributions can be more effective when more helping hands are involved in community development and community building.
Lastly, the current social work curriculum should be strengthened to equip trainees with invaluable skills such as the ability to anticipate social issues and problems to ensure a more dynamic social work profession.
“In understanding and analysing these aspects, they can develop a clearer sense of service direction for their organisations and make in-roads into areas where there are potential needs to be met and take proactive steps to tackle them,” he says.
Mr Udhia Kumar, Executive Director at Thye Hua Kwan Family Service Centre @ Tanjong Pagar, looks forward to more respectful sharing sessions with the Southeast Asian region and beyond.
“We should propagate or come up with our own indigenous models to uplift the community as the social service sector in Singapore is truly a unique one. We can share this knowledge or approaches with other nations who need not necessarily emulate us but adapt the approaches in a way that best benefits them. Likewise, we can also learn from other nations and I look forward to more of such sessions in the future,” he says.
The celebrations concluded with an Appreciation Tea for the field educators. Certificates and acrylic awards were also presented to various field educators and organisations for supervising students at the Department. Click here to see the full list of recipients.
Congratulations to all the winners!