National policies will adopt more inclusive approach: Chuan-Jin

More than 660 people gathered at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday to mark the launch of the 20th-anniversary celebrations for the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore). The group earned a spot in the Singapore Book of Records for the most people asse
More than 660 people gathered at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday to mark the launch of the 20th-anniversary celebrations for the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore). The group earned a spot in the Singapore Book of Records for the most people assembling kites together.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Next Enabling Masterplan to ensure initiatives include people with special needs: Chuan-Jin

National policies and schemes, such as SkillsFuture and Smart Nation, will adopt a more inclusive approach towards people with disabilities.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said yesterday that the next Enabling Masterplan - a blueprint on programmes for people with disabilities - should ensure that national initiatives cater to all Singaporeans, including those with special needs.

The current five-year masterplan ends this year. Mr Tan said his ministry is putting together a committee to start the development of the next masterplan, and will announce details of who is in the committee.

Government initiatives such as the SkillsFuture movement to boost skill levels and promote lifelong learning, and the Smart Nation drive of using technology to improve people's lives, should be just as relevant for people with disabilities, said Mr Tan.

"After all, skills development and technology adoption can be effective enablers. They make a tremendous difference to people with disabilities, to help them realise their potential... and contribute back to society to the best of their abilities."

Mr Tan was speaking at the We Are Able! 2016 event, organised by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). It was held at Marina Bay Sands and aimed to celebrate the abilities and contributions of people with disabilities. The event was attended by about 400 people.

Mr Tan said there had been progress made in supporting people with disabilities and their caregivers - such as making more community facilities and public transport services disabled-friendly, and helping people with disabilities improve their career prospects.

But there were still gaps, he noted. For instance, businesses could play a more active role in giving job opportunities to people with special needs and greater public understanding is still needed.

"While we can have accessible carpark lots for people with disabilities who need to commute by car, these lots will never be put to their intended use if able-bodied drivers continue to park in these lots," he said.

NCSS recently rolled out a public education initiative about the use of accessible carpark lots, and will launch an islandwide disability awareness campaign later this year.

In a separate event yesterday, a family carnival was organised by the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore), to mark the launch of its 20th-anniversary celebrations.

The group also earned a spot in the Singapore Book of Records, for the most number of people assembling kites together.

More than 660 people were involved in making the kites. The kite in the association's logo symbolises the hopes of its beneficiaries to soar to greater heights.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'National policies will adopt more inclusive approach'. Print Edition | Subscribe