Individuals with disabilities and people with mental health conditions will be provided with additional support by the Government, said Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget 2017 statement on 20 February.

“All of us can play a part in our communities,” he said, as he outlined the initiatives to build a more inclusive society.

“All of us have something to offer, be it time, expertise or the extra attention, to care for each other.”

Three-pronged plan to support those with disabilities and caregivers

In line with the Budget 2017, the Government will initiate the third Enabling Masterplan – a five-year national plan aimed to improve care for persons with disabilities and their caregivers.

While the two former plans focused on areas such as intervention and education as well as assistive technologies and accessibility, the new plan takes a three-pronged approach, with aims to integrate individuals with disabilities into the workforce and providing employment support, providing caregivers with support and aid, and by increasing the expenditure on initiatives to support individuals with disabilities.

Under additional employment support, special education training programs that help prepare graduates for employment will also be extended to those with moderate intellectual and multiple disabilities, a step forward from the current programmes which are only available to those with autism and mild intellectual disabilities.

A Disability Caregiver Support Centre will also be established to provide information, training, and peer support groups for caregivers.

According to Heng, the Government expects to spend roughly S$400 million per annum on such initiatives supporting individuals with disabilities.

Increased expenditure to tackle mental health issues

Meanwhile, the government projects an additional expenditure of S$160 million in the next five years on community mental health issues.

“Mental health issues may not be easy to talk about, but we can make good progress when the community comes together,” said Heng.

In addition to provision of mental health services in polyclinics, Voluntary Welfare Organisations will also be involved to increase public awareness and education on mental health issues, and to set up more community-based teams. The Dementia Friendly Communities, which consist of members of the public and business who know how to look out for individuals with symptoms of dementia, will also be expanded, while the National Council for Social Services will lead in initiatives to integrate individuals with mental health issues into work environments as well as society.

Bringing society together through sports

Citing the importance of sports in tying the community together, Heng also announced that the planned expansion of the Sports-in-Precinct Programme that will make it easier for Singaporeans to participate in community sport activities.

Another initiative would be the expansion of the SportCares Programme, which encourages disadvantaged youths to discover their abilities through sports. Over S$50 million has been set aside to support community sports, with S$50 million more allocated to match sports donations dollar-to-dollar.

An additional S$50 million in grant over the next five years to support aspiring athletes achieve their full potential, said Heng, adding that “This will build a wider base of support for Team Singapore.” MIMS

Read more:
Singapore's MOH to improve palliative care by increasing inpatient beds
Singapore's public healthcare system to regroup into three integrated clusters
Singapore's third national blueprint for the disabled calls for dedicated office
Singapore's MOH lauds efforts towards efficient and improved patient care