Budget debate: New engagement office to train Malay/Muslim volunteers, improve outreach

The move to improve engagement efforts will come under the M³ collaboration by three key Malay/Muslim organisations.
The move to improve engagement efforts will come under the M³ collaboration by three key Malay/Muslim organisations.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A new government-led office will be set up by the middle of this year to better organise Malay/Muslim volunteers and manage community resources more effectively.

This move to improve engagement efforts will come under the M³ collaboration by three key Malay/Muslim organisations, announced Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Maliki Osman on Monday (March 8).

The three organisations are: self-help group Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.

One immediate task for the M³ Engagement Coordination Office (Eco) will be to focus on building the capability of volunteers in M³@Towns, which are platforms for those in the community to work together to help residents closer to home.

Dr Maliki, who is also Second Minister for Education, said Eco will set up a training framework for these volunteers to deepen their understanding of national policies and government schemes, as well as equip them with the skills to help vulnerable families.

There are currently over 500 registered volunteers under the M³ programme.

"Through this approach, we hope to build a confident pool of volunteers, who are able to engage families better and in a more meaningful way," said Dr Maliki during the debate on the budget for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Through the office, the minister said M³ will better coordinate outreach efforts with government programmes like Uplift, where trained personnel check in with disadvantaged households to support students who need more help to attend school regularly.

The office will bolster efforts by M³ to strengthen partnerships with Malay/Muslim organisations, as well as other community groups, to bridge the gap in aid and meet the community's needs, noted Dr Maliki.

Such partnerships have already borne fruit, he said, citing how the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry supported home-based businesses to apply for the Government's Temporary Relief Fund, of which more than 250 applications were successful.

He added that work is ongoing to allow M³ to partner other organisations, including government agencies, to use technology and data to make its efforts more effective.

Dr Maliki also gave an update on the status of M³@Towns, and announced that a new one will be launched in Toa Payoh by the end of April, to bring the total number to 11.

Other towns in the programme include Bedok and Jurong, with the latest that were launched this year being Geylang Serai and Jalan Besar.

Increasing the number of M³@Towns will expand outreach to more families, especially those who are vulnerable, said Dr Maliki.

"We will also raise the awareness about our various programmes and government schemes, and improve access for them and their children... and therefore, pave the way for a better life for them," he said.