New SG Together action networks to be formed to address key issues like mental health

Some of the networks formed include those that help disadvantaged students, support vulnerable families and look at mental health among young people. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - New networks will be formed to bring together community partners and the Government to devise solutions for issues that Singaporeans are concerned about.

These Singapore Together Action Networks will draw on ideas from partners across different sectors, and turn them into new solutions to help take Singapore forward, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Saturday (June 20).

"We will form new partnerships around issues that you care about, and to make a difference through action," said Mr Heng in the sixth and final televised broadcast to the nation on Singapore's post-Covid-19 future.

Some of these networks have already been formed, he noted. They include those that help disadvantaged students, support vulnerable families and look at mental health among young people.

More will be created when key issues surface from a new dialogue series under the Singapore Together citizen engagement initiative, called Emerging Stronger Conversations.

The issues that emerge from the conversations and the types of action that are needed to address them will determine the number and composition of these networks.

They will bring together diverse people from the Government, community and businesses to collaborate and deliver ideas and solutions together, said a spokesman from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).

Mr Heng had first mooted the Singapore Together movement - a key plank of his collaborative approach to governance - in June 2019.

Back then, he said he and other ministers would work with Singaporeans to design and implement solutions across a range of issues and policy areas. These include environmental sustainability, housing, youth and social mobility.

The networks that have been formed so far include the Uplift (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Task Force) programme and SG Cares Community Network - both convened in 2018 - and the Youth Mental Well-Being Network, which was formed in February 2020.

The Uplift initiative, which is led by the Education Ministry (MOE), sees schools and the community collaborating to support students from disadvantaged families.

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The SG Cares network brings 160 government and community support agencies to build local support networks in the community. From June, partners and volunteers from the network will proactively reach out to 50,000 households in rental flats to better support low-income and vulnerable individuals and families who may be affected by Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the Youth Mental Well-Being Network, led by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, MOE and the Ministry of Health, will bring together more than 1,000 youths, mental health practitioners and parents to address the rising prevalence of mental health conditions among the young, and better support their mental health.

Reiterating a point made by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his national broadcast on Wednesday, Mr Heng said Singapore must continue to strengthen its culture of solidarity.

The Covid-19 crisis has revealed vulnerabilities in society, like seniors who have found it hard to use digital tools and services, he noted. Others were also unable to cope with the emotional and psychological stresses that arose from the pandemic.

To address these issues, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran started the Seniors Go Digital programme, working with community partners to help them bridge the digital divide.

The National Care Hotline was also launched to provide emotional and psychological support.

Said Mr Heng: "The Government will continue to support you fully, and mobilise Singaporeans to support one another... Be assured that, in Singapore, no one will be left to walk alone. You will be cared for if you fall on hard times. You will be part of our society's progress, no matter your starting point or circumstances."

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