Published: 18 January 2020
Mr Desmond Chin, Commissioner of Prisons & Co-Chairman of the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) Network,
Mr Chng Hwee Hong, Chairman SCORE & Co-Chairman of the CARE Network,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
1. Good evening. I am pleased to join you in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the CARE Network, at the CARE Network - Nanyang Polytechnic Drama Production this evening.
2. Since its inception in 2000, the CARE Network has grown to more than 100 community partners, comprising Social Service Agencies, religious organisations, halfway houses and grassroots organisations. During this period, we made significant progress in lowering the two-year recidivism rate in Singapore, from 44% 20 years ago to 24% for the 2016 cohort.
3. This progress would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of those working behind the scenes, such as yourselves, who give ex-offenders a second chance after their release and provide an inclusive and supportive environment for their reintegration.
4. The drama production we are watching today, titled “Ripples”, illustrates the meaningful work of professionals and volunteers in supporting ex-offenders. Produced by Social Work students from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) in collaboration with the CARE Network, it demonstrates the perseverance of volunteers in changing the perception of a neighbourhood community towards ex-offenders, and garnering their support.
5. I am happy to share with you the story of Mr Thomas Liao, who is among us today. Thomas successfully turned his life around, thanks to the strong support of various agencies under the CARE Network.
6. With the help of volunteer tutors and financial assistance from the National Council of Social Service, Thomas was able to pursue a Diploma in Social Work at NYP after his release. Fei Yue Community Services subsequently gave him the opportunity to give back to society by employing him as a Social Work Associate, where he now actively uplifts the vulnerable and disadvantaged through his work. He also regularly shares his experiences with inmates. Thomas’ story is an example of how your work can make a difference.
7. Employment is key to breaking the cycle of offending and inter-generational crime. During my visit to Changi Prison last year, some of the inmates shared with me how their foremost concern is to find a job after they re-join society. I had also visited The Turning Point, a residential halfway house for female ex-offenders, where the ex-offenders were grateful to the guidance and strong support from the volunteers and staff in helping them overcome their struggles.
8. With the right support from counsellors and volunteers, ex-offenders can turn their lives around. I hope that we can continue to work hard and rally the community to provide integrated support for ex-offenders. Together, we can bring hope and positivity to their lives.
9. Thank you.