What does it really take to be inclusive?

Is financial support the only way to build inclusiveness in society? 

The much anticipated Budget 2017 took place about a month ago and even till today; some of us are trying to fully grasp its details. For the disability sector, the coverage was extensive as compared to Budget 2016.

A quick recap on Budget 2016 which addressed 2 key areas.

  1. Worker Income Scheme (WIS) was given a boost; those under the scheme received an increase in benefits. Employers were given incentives to encourage employing persons with disabilities (PWD’s) earning more than $4000.
  2. Another scheme that was affected in Budget 2016 was the Long-Term Assistance (LTA). Generally, both schemes were geared towards enhancement of the workforce and added support to PWD’s.

Fast forward to 2017, budget 2017 took some time to digest and after chewing on it, we could summarise it to a few points.

S$400 million will be set aside into helping PWD’s and their caregivers.

Caregivers

  • There will be a new caregiver support centre which will provide the necessary support for caregivers so that they can support the PWD’s to the best of their abilities.
  • Work in collaboration with existing Volunteer Welfare Organisations (VWO) to support caregivers, and come up with pilot programs for caregiver support.

PWD’s

  • Increase the employment support for those who are suffering from moderate intellectual disability (ID) and multiple limbs PWD’s
  • $160 million will be given to support various aspects
    • Intellectual Disability (ID)
      • Work together with VWO + set up polyclinics with more community based screening
    • Dementia
      • Increase the number of dementia friendly communities in the neighbourhood
  • $50 million dollars will be directed towards para-sport
    • Sport programmes to encourage Singaporeans to play sports near their homes
    • Additional $50 million to be given to aspiring para-athletes in grants

This may not be the most detailed descriptions of Budget 2017 but it definitely got us thinking.

The para-athlete and disability scene has been subtly existent in our Singapore DNA for decades and there has been a steady increase in its awareness over the years.

Since Singapore’s hosting of the ASEAN Para Games in 2015, much media attention was brought to not only to our para-athletes but the supporting infrastructure of our country and how we are supporting the disability scene as a whole.

The success of the APG was not only limited during the duration of the competition as Singapore hit a record high for total medal tally at the regional meet, but also the effect it had on a nation. For the first time, a nation had a chance to witness para-sports at its finest and helped educate ourselves at the same time! Many of us up till that point had never even heard of para-sports and the various disabilities.

There was a call for an increase in awareness on the disability sector thereafter, with multiple initiatives from VWO’s and other organisations answered the call and played their part in the change of perception. Multiple government initiatives have also been introduced to address the much needed call to action.

With such actions steering the nation forward and coupled with inspiring organisations such as Society Staples and AbleThrive who support the disability movement in various ways. With their contributions, the perception and awareness has steadily increased over time.

The Paralympics followed shortly after.

Rio 2016 was definitely the highlight of Singapore’s sporting calendar. “Majulah Singapura” was heard for the very first time as local hero Joseph Schooling clinched a podium finish in style. Just as the euphoria of the Schooling effect was dying down, Paralympian Yip Pin Xiu gave us the goosebumps with 2 Gold medals at Rio as well. This success was brand new to Singapore and it sparked countless debates in the equality of prize money and treatment to both our national athletes.

We are just pin-pointing some of the possible events that kicked started the change. It may have been a necessary jolt Singapore needed for us for the corrective and positive programmes to take place.

“Why the vast difference in treatment?”

To be honest, it does not really matter but the main fact remains that every individual has a part to play in improving inclusiveness within a society.

Accompanying the Budget 2017 are 2 visionary movements.

  • The 3rd phase of Enabling Masterplan, which plans to strengthen the ecosystem for PWD’s and their families. The aim is to produce a solid infrastructure by 2021 with a carefully thought out plan over a span of 5 years.
  • New strategic movement for para-sports. This encompasses a new four year plan with an estimated budget of S$20 million which will be spent on several key areas; one of which is to increase the participation of para-sports.

Such movements in the past decade has definitely played an incremental growth in Singapore’s disability scene to date.

So what really is the real cost to achieve the targets of Budget 2017?

TIME AND EFFORT.

We should not stop pushing the boundaries just yet. Many of us still have a part to play in supporting the current initiatives and improving them as well. We can keep pushing hundreds of millions towards this cause but if we as individuals do not put in the time and effort to accompany the monetary ambitions to forge accessibility and inclusiveness, it will not be worth its true potential value. No amount of money can compare to the collective effort of time and effort as a nation. 

To all the silent warriors who have been toiling the grounds, your work is not going unnoticed. The disability sector is slowly but surely reaping your effort. From all of us at Dis.is.Able, a big Thank You!

#togetherwecanmakeadifference

 

 

Article and Image by: Dis.Is.Able

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