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Issues faced by social workers during early years of post independence:

Discuss about the Social Work Problems and Issues.

Social service is known as those activities which are related to human services and performed to promote the health and well being of people. The main of social service is to become the society more self sufficient, reduce the dependency on others, strengthen the relationship among members of society, and restore the families, communities, and society[1]. Similar goals are followed by social service organizations in Singapore. In Singapore, social service organizations provide their service to all age groups for the purpose to build strong and developed society. For example services provided to children’s who belong to families with lower income, services related to youth and families, childcare, and they also provide services to elder person and disabled persons. Various types of services are provided in Singapore such as counseling to individuals, family in need, accommodation and other kind of support needed by individual[2].

In this paper, discussion is held on the topic of issues faced by social workers in Singapore during period of post-independence that were 1960s to 1980 and issues faced by social workers today. Subsequently paper is concluded with brief conclusion.

Social service sector in Singapore continued to grow and the government needs contribution and help of others for the purpose of coordinate the various social service. In 1958, Woon Wah Siang, the director of social welfare held meeting and called forty heads of Voluntary welfare organizations (VWOs) for the purpose of discussing the formation of new statutory body. This meeting results in formation of the Singapore Council of Social Service (SCSS).  All the contributions of VWOs by bringing all the communities and organizations together for service provided to community and individual was promoted by SCSS and this was the main purpose of SCSS. All these things facilitate the government to providing some essential services to the society such as housing, healthcare, education, and they also provide support to the Social Welfare Department for the remedial work[3]. 

SCSS introduced the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1960. This board builds one new house in every 45 minutes and achieves its goal of building 26000 flats in three years of their incorporation. In 1963, Yang di-Pertuan Negara Yusof Ishak head of the state, declare that housing problem in Singapore was solved. Till the period of 1964 they build 51000 new houses, and they are able to provide home to almost quarter of the population[4]. In 1959, almost 1.6 million citizens were homeless, 300,000 lived in squatters, and 250,000 lived in slums. Within the period of three days HDB offer home to every applicant[5].

Issues faced by social worker today:

In 1950 and early 1960, Singapore faced racial riots and political strife which results in poverty and divided society in close knit communal groups which are pulling the country in different directions. For survival Singapore has to deal with various social, political and communal problems. In 1960, People’s Association (PA) was introduced for the purpose of encouraging racial harmony and social cohesion, and they also help in building the nation. Meetings are held in community grounds and various ethnic, religious, and language groups participate in these meetings. PA also provides platforms to residents for conducting social and recreational activities.

In 1965, they get success when after the short period of federation with Malaysia they secured their sovereignty under the People Action Party (PAP). Members of this party were impressed by the socialist ideas of British community, and they also faced competition from their rivals[6].

This party frame number of policies related to economic, political and social aspects which have great effect on the subsequent development of the country. Generally, PAP focuses on economic development of the country, and allocates very few resources for social development. PAP approach towards social policy is completely different from Britain and other European Countries. PAP frames such social policies which indirectly serve in economic development of the country instead of meeting the social needs of the people[7]. The major social policies farmed by PAP were public housing and social security. The result of this housing policy was amazing because 80% of citizens live in dwellings built by the government of Singapore. System related to social security in Singapore was very different from European countries and other countries. Government does not provide any social insurance to the citizens, and instead government promoted the CPF which was mandatory saving scheme[8]. Housing policy and social security policy highly contributes in social success of the country, and even after so many difficulties Singapore shows growth of almost 9% per annum[9].

In 1965, when Singapore became independent then there was environment of joy in the nation, but there are number of issues such as welfare relief, rehabilitation, and medical care. SCSS try to develop system which independently deals with these issues and they also put efforts to solve these issues. Between the period of 1960 and 1970, and various VWOs are set up by the SCSS to meet the needs of different individuals in the communities. There are number of organizations which are set up during this period of time such as Churches Counselling Centre (CCC), Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), and Boys’ Brigade in Singapore and Singapore Children Society. Before the period of 1971, disabled children’s were not able to attend the school but after that period education system was reviewed for the purpose of disabled children’s.

In 1971, Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) was established. This organization represents professional social workers in Singapore[10].

In 1960, the economic development of the Singapore was achieved because of the efforts made by the government and the people of Singapore. Both government and citizens of Singapore was realized that he main asset of Singapore was human resource capital of the country, and firstly Singapore is depend on its human resource and secondly on its foreign investors resources[11].

In this era of time, the main issue faced by social workers is housing problems faced by their clients. There are number of social workers who feel that they are not able to much help of their clients, and many see their clients as victim of the policy flexibility.

Social workers stated that it is necessary to review the housing policies of the country because there is income ceiling which must be qualified by the person for getting rent premises, and rent for premises increase in case person crosses the income threshold. There is also one more requirement which is applicable on lower income group that is defined the family units.

Social workers further stated that there is need to rethink on the policy related to housing such as only one or two room flats are provided on rent regardless of size of the family[12].

When person buy home then he is making long term financial investment which means that person is continuously employed for the period of 25 years to 30 years, and sometimes both the partners working for the purpose of purchasing home. One more study presented the effect of debt relief in case of low income groups, and policy was initiated last year by Methodist Welfare Services, and in this policy one-time debt-relief was provided to hundreds of households.

There is one more issue faced by social workers in Singapore, and that is social workers feel ill equipped while dealing with the clients related to sexual minorities, and these social workers further stated that they had no training to deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. Two reports were published on this issue by separate researchers.

First report was published in the International Social Work journal on last November, and this report was published by six authors from universities and voluntary welfare organisations, including the National University of Singapore and Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre[13]. This paper highlighted the issued faced by social workers while dealing with such cases.

Conclusion:

In this we discuss the different issues faced by social workers in Singapore during different periods of time and how social service sector was developed in those circumstances. We also state how different organizations and various groups contribute in the development of social sector in Singapore. For the purpose of dealing with these changing trends and issues in different environments it is necessary that social worker become familiar with these social trends.

References

Hirayama, Kasumi K., "Social Work Problems and Issues in Asia" (1994). Center for International Social Work: Inaugural Conference (1994).

Vasoo S, Lee J. Singapore: social development, housing and the Central Provident Fund Int J Soc Welfare 2001: 10: 276–283 ß Blackwell, 2001.

Ow, R., & Rothwell, D. (2011). Needs and Issues of Persons with Disability. In K. K. Mehta & A. Wee (Eds.), Social work in context: A reader (2nd ed.) (pp. 241-270). Singapore: Pearson Education South Asia. 

Parker, R. L. (2003). The social work dictionary (5th Ed.). Washington, DC., USA: NASW Press.

Vasoo, S. (2001). Community development in Singapore: New directions and challenges. Asian Journal of Political Science, 9(1), 4-17. 

National Council of Social Service. (2008). For all we care. 50 years of social service in Singapore 1958-2008. Singapore: National Council of Social Service.

National Council of Social Service. (2001). Heart@Work: Social services in Singapore through the years. Singapore: National Council of Social Service.

Goh CT (2000). Speech at National Day Rally 2000. Ministry of Information and the Arts, Singapore.

Housing Development Board [HDB]. (n.d.). Living with/near parents or married child. Retrieved from https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/buying-aflat/resale/living-with-near-parents-or-married-child.

National Library Board. People's Action Party: Post-independence years, < https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_2015-02-04_103701.html>.

Gundy Cahyadi, Barbara Kursten, Dr. Marc Weiss, and Guang Yang, (2004). Global Urban Development Singapore Metropolitan Economic Strategy Report < https://www.globalurbandevelopment.org/GUD%20Singapore%20MES%20Report.pdf>.

Chin, C. N. (2016). Low-income families with housing problems need more help, social workers say. < https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/low-income-families-housing-problems-need-more-help-social-workers-say>.

Hui, X. K. (2016). Social workers 'feel ill-equipped to deal with LGBT clients'< https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/social-workers-feel-ill-equipped-to-deal-with-lgbt-clients>.

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