Singapore

New task force to fight rising family violence

It aims to raise awareness, explore schemes like a national hotline for victims

An inter-agency task force has been set up to address the problem of violence within families, giving better support to victims.

Co-chaired by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, the new task force aims to raise public awareness of the issue and come up with initiatives like a dedicated national hotline for victims of family violence.

This comes against the backdrop of increasingly violent family abuse cases, with victims reporting more acts of violence in their applications for personal protection orders.

Last year, victims reported 4,224 types of violence in the 2,452 applications for personal protection orders filed against their family members.

Each applicant can indicate up to four types of violence committed against them in their application, including wrongful confinement, continual harassment, placing a person in fear of hurt, or knowingly causing hurt.

The figure last year was a 21 per cent jump from the 3,497 types of violence reported in 2016, despite more personal protection orders filed that year.

There were 2,811 applications for personal protection orders filed in 2016.

"It is clear that we will need to do more together - be it lowering barriers to seeking help, or furthering coordination, both within Government and with our community partners," said Ms Sun at an event at Pave, which specialises in family violence, yesterday.

The task force will work on allowing victims access to a scheme called the Home Team Community Assistance and Referral Scheme (Cares).

Under Home Team Cares, social workers stationed at police divisions assess what type of intervention is required for the offenders and refer them to suitable agencies for help.

It was piloted in January last year at the Bedok Police Division and police are looking to extend the scheme to all divisions.

Ms Sun said there was potential for family violence victims to benefit from having similar access to social assistance.

"This means in the future, when police investigate a family violence case, Home Team Cares officers will also support the victims in such cases, and triage and refer them to appropriate agencies for help," she said, adding officials hope to roll this out by the end of the year.

The task force is also looking into conducting more research and public education on family violence. It is also exploring the possibility of a one-stop dedicated national hotline against abuse and violence for victims, members of the public and anyone else seeking help in the area.

Meanwhile, a new educational pictorial book to encourage children to speak up about family violence was launched yesterday. It was produced by Pave and the police from the Ang Mo Kio Police Division.

A Day With Bob tells the tale of a young boy named Bob who regularly witnesses his father beating up his mother.

COMMUNITY ISSUES