Saying No to Family Violence 21-Strong Taskforce to Lead National Effort
- The Taskforce on Family Violence, co-chaired by Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Associate Professor Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Social and Family Development, held its first meeting via videoconferencing on 23 April 2020. The Taskforce consists of 21 members from Government agencies, the Courts and community partners such as hospitals, family violence specialist centres, crisis shelters, and family service centres (see Annex A for the composition).
- The Taskforce members discussed ways to better combat family violence, including keeping a close watch on the current situation, and putting in place improvements that range from strengthening support for spouses facing abuse to enhancing collaboration amongst stakeholders.
- The Taskforce recognises that individuals and families may experience more stress during these times, due to the extended COVID-19 Circuit Breaker measures. In some instances, this might lead to incidents of violence. The Taskforce would like to urge persons experiencing family violence to come forward to seek help by calling the hotlines run by MSF and our partners listed below. The Taskforce similarly encourages other family members and members of the public to report cases of family violence (see Annex B for a list of hotlines). Your prompt action may save lives.
- In the coming months, the Taskforce will study the challenges faced by various groups experiencing violence, and identify ways in which the Government, working hand-in-hand with community partners, can empower victims and perpetrators alike to break the cycle of violence. It will look into:
- Holding a series of consultations with Social Service Agencies (SSAs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with experience in family violence services to update and deepen our understanding of the family violence landscape.
- Identifying key areas for improvement, and developing initiatives to better support victims of family violence, using the consultations as a base to build consensus.
- The Taskforce will also examine how to better support and empower victims when their cases go through the criminal justice system. Today, there are already laws that allow victims to seek recourse against their perpetrators. The Police have also put in place robust investigative and operational processes to manage such cases, including handling victims sensitively and referring them to social service agencies for counselling and support. As the family violence landscape evolves, MHA and the Police will explore how to better support victims of family violence through their journey, from the initial report to its conclusion in the criminal justice system. This could involve strengthening our operational processes, and further enhancing protocols between the Courts, social service agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that victims receive seamless and timely support.
- SPS Sun Xueling said: “Family violence is a complex issue that requires a thorough understanding of the stressors, the triggers and the intervention points which often have to involve a whole-of-society approach. We have to be even more vigilant to address family violence issues given the challenges brought about by COVID-19. We are heartened to see more partners join in this important work alongside long-standing partners. MHA will work closely with MSF to ensure that law enforcement and legislation work hand in hand with MSF’s family and community-oriented approach so as to combat family violence effectively. We will be hard at work over the coming year, understanding the landscape, considering and reviewing various ideas, before making our recommendations.”
- SPS Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said: “We are grateful that many of MSF’s long-standing partners have come forward to contribute their expertise through the Taskforce. A whole-of-society effort is needed to tackle family violence and we have built strong community networks over the years. During this circuit breaker period, we can and will continue to collectively help families manage stress so that family conflicts do not escalate into violence. The Taskforce will strengthen existing networks, identify gaps and work alongside our stakeholders to co-create and co-deliver solutions that offer more comprehensive, convenient, and coordinated support to these families.”
- The Taskforce intends to report its recommendations to the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Social and Family Development within a year.
Annexes (316 kb, .pdf)