Third national roadmap for disability sector from 2017-2021 unveiled

The recommendations were based on feedback and three key trends: people with disabilities living longer; more people having autism; and an ageing population.
The recommendations were based on feedback and three key trends: people with disabilities living longer; more people having autism; and an ageing population. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Details of the third Enabling Masterplan, a national roadmap that will guide initiatives for the disability sector from 2017 to 2021, were released on Tuesday.

The 20 recommendations by an expert panel include a call for the Government to set up a dedicated disability office, comprising relevant government agencies, to meet the disabled's needs more comprehensively and across their different life stages.

The panel also called for stronger partnerships within and across the education, health and social service sectors, so service providers can reap economies of scale and be better-resourced to offer quality services. People with disabilities can then have more seamless support for services offered in different sectors.

The release of the third Enabling Masterplan on Tuesday comes after the panel's consultations with more than 400 people over eight months. The 22-member panel comprises people with disabilities, their caregivers, and representatives of service providers, government agencies and companies.

The recommendations were based on feedback and three key trends: people with disabilities living longer; more people having autism; and an ageing population.

Given these trends, it was vital to help people with disabilities live independently as they age, and enhance support for people with autism and older caregivers, said the panel in its report.

National Council of Social Service vice-president Anita Fam, who chaired the panel, called the latest roadmap a "multi-faceted plan" and wrote in the foreword: "The person with disabilities is at the centre of all that is being planned... (The panel was) mindful of the need to enable persons with disabilities to transition through the various life stages with the appropriate support and guidance."

Proposals were mooted in other areas such as education, employment, and supporting caregivers.

They include: more opportunities for interaction between students in mainstream and special education schools; work with agencies such as the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) to promote inclusive hiring; involve employers earlier in the job training process so a disabled person can better ease into work.

The panel also made other recommendations of improving data collection to better plan services, and improving knowledge on how to interact with disabled people.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development said on Tuesday it will "study the recommendations carefully and respond in due course".