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Rehabilitation Through Technology
Addressing rehabilitation and preventive drug education in the digital age.

Technology improves our lives in numerous ways but can also serve as a barrier to those who aren’t familiar with it. This is especially true for ex-offenders; imagine completing your sentence and ready to change your life for the better, but struggling to make sense of new technology and norms.

This was one of the key issues addressed by the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-offenders (CARE) Network Seminar 2018. 

Getting Reconnected
CARE Network 01 ISCOS
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

“One major challenge that ex-offenders face, especially when they’re released after three years or longer, is the drastic change to Singapore’s landscape,” explained Mr Elvis Overee, Deputy Director of the Industrial & Services Co-operative Society (ISCOS). “Some ex-offenders may not be familiar with using smartphones, software or apps.”

Enter ISCOS’ Project Reconnect. Launched in March 2017, the programme caters to ex-offenders who’ve been incarcerated for more than three years and who have little family or social support. Upon their release, these ex-offenders are provided with assistance through educational programmes on basic yet essential life skills, including the use of smartphones and other devices. 

“It’s important to know how to use Government digital platforms, for example,” explained Mr Overee. “So the first thing is to get them a SingPass and two-factor authentication; that’s something we immediately start working on.”

As of April 2018, Project Reconnect has held over 43 sessions and assisted more than 270 ex-offenders. After they’ve completed the one-day Project Reconnect programme, ex-offenders may join other ISCOS support group programmes. “We try to connect them to other agencies depending on their needs such as counselling, employment or subsidies for training,” said Mr Overee. 

Let’s Talk About It
CARE Network 02 - SANA
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

The Seminar also gave CARE Network member-agencies the chance to relate their efforts to share the anti-drug message online. One such initiative is Talk2SANA, a live chat portal offered by the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) on its website. 

Launched in July 2017, Talk2SANA provides real-time counselling services to users. “The portal allows individuals grappling with drug-related issues to come forward online and seek help anonymously,” said Mr Andy Lee, 42, Acting Head of the Aftercare Department at SANA. 

Manned by SANA counsellors and trained volunteers, the portal has been successful in reaching out to groups that are most at risk of abusing drugs. Importantly, a large portion of Talk2SANA users are youth and adults between the ages of 21 to 30. “This matches the at-risk group identified by the Central Narcotics Bureau,” said Mr Lee. 

The Talk2SANA portal also offers a range of anti-drug materials, resource kits and referrals, but it’s the live chat service – and listening ear of the counsellors – that has struck a chord with users. “We noticed that younger users who engage with us want to know more about how drugs are harmful. They are curious, so engaging with them means we can do upstream prevention.” 

The CARE Network
Bringing together more than 100 community partners, the CARE Network engages the community in rehabilitation by co-ordinating member-agency activities and developing innovative rehabilitative initiatives for ex-offenders. Its core member agencies include the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, SCORE, SPS, the National Council of Social Service, the Singapore After-Care Association, SANA, the Yellow Ribbon Fund and ISCOS.

The CARE Network Seminar was held on 15 May 2018 whereover 300 aftercare professionals and volunteers come together to share best practices on strengthening aftercare (which refers to the range of welfare support and rehabilitation services available to ex-offenders).

Read the speech by Senior Parliamentary Secretary Mr Amrin Amin. 
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 17 May 2018
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