The views, ideas and worries of Singapore's youth will take centre stage in a series of dialogues to be launched next month.
Much like the Our Singapore Conversation series of a few years ago, the new Youth Conversations aim to inform the young about important national issues, as well as help them work out their differences by listening, negotiating and finding solutions together, and with the Government.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, in announcing the initiative, said it will be different in two ways from previous efforts to engage youth.
First, the Government will be more open.
"We will be sharing more policy thoughts and considerations with our youth," she said. "We will listen more to understand our youth's views, concerns and aspirations. We will provide more support for our youth in generating and implementing their ideas."
Second, there will be new ways for youth to get their voices heard.
"We are experimenting with different and novel modes of engagement," said Ms Fu.
"Participants can expect the conversations to be candid and interactive. The conversations should broaden their horizons," she noted. "This will be a platform where youth meet not just like-minded peers, but also make new friends who may come from different backgrounds, and hold different beliefs and perspectives."
She added that new methods such as hackathons, or mass hacking events, and citizen juries will be used to engage them.
A new online platform is also in the works, Ms Fu said, without giving details.
Later, Senior Minister of State Sim Ann and Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng told the House that youth leaders will get first-hand experience through their attachments with social service organisations. They will also get to meet their peers from Asean countries under an Asean Youth Fellowship Programme.
Ms Fu, in a wide-ranging speech that covered community, sports, heritage and youth issues, noted that globalisation and other forces are pulling societies apart. Singapore, too, faces the challenge of strengthening its social fabric in the light of such forces.
Her ministry will focus on three areas this year: Encourage Singaporeans to care for one another, promote greater social cohesion and build a confident nation through arts and heritage programmes.
Hence, it will launch Our SG Heritage Plan, a long-term national drive to preserve and promote Singapore's heritage.
Also, it will expand the scale of its programmes to encourage racial and religious harmony, using social media to get more people to join dialogues on sensitive topics such as race and religion.
In the area of sports, a new sports centre in Sembawang will be ready in the next few years, while older centres such as those in Delta and Choa Chu Kang will be rejuvenated.
Four new Active Health Labs will be set up in Sengkang, Woodlands, Bishan and Jurong, while two mobile ones will go to community clubs and Housing Board residents' centres.These labs will help Singaporeans assess their fitness levels and maintain active lifestyles.
The debate on the ministry's budget wrapped up the annual Budget marathon, which lasted eight days this year.