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MORE support is on the way for those with disabilities in Singapore, with the government expected to spend about S$400 million each year on various initiatives to help this group and their caregivers.
A third Enabling Masterplan will be launched, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat during his Budget speech.
This latest five-year national roadmap, put together by a committee of private and public sector representatives, calls for the government and the community to better integrate persons with disabilities into the workforce.
Training programmes for special education students will be extended to those with moderate intellectual and multiple disabilities.
Currently, these schemes, which are meant to prepare special education graduates to be employed, are available to those with mild intellectual disability and autism.
A centre for disability caregiver support will also be set up to provide information, training and peer support groups.
This facility will work with voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) to pilot programmes that cater to caregivers of newly-diagnosed persons with disabilities, said Mr Heng.
The minister later stressed the need to rally around those with mental health conditions, including dementia. The government will spend an additional S$160 million over the next five years in this area.
There are plans to give extra resources to VWOs to set up more community-based teams to support those in need, as well as educate the public on mental health issues.
The Health Ministry (MOH) will provide mental health care services in polyclinics as part of the broader effort to improve the delivery of care within the community.
Last year, MOH launched "dementia friendly communities" in Hong Kah North, MacPherson and Yishun. These communities are networks of residents, businesses and services trained to look out for and help those that show dementia symptoms.
Mr Heng said that more of these communities will be set up. The National Council for Social Services will lead efforts to integrate persons with mental health issues into the workplace and society.
On a related note, Mr Heng gave a boost to the VWOs-Charities Capability Fund, which helps VWOs and charities here train their staff, expand their reach and serve people better.
He shared that over S$180 million in funding has been committed so far, which has helped around 400 VWOs and charities. Over the next five years, the government will provide extra funding of up to S$100 million.
As for self-help groups, Mr Heng said they will benefit from an additional S$6 million grant over the next two years as they go about their work to help needy families and children.
Turning to the local sports scene, the minister said there will be greater efforts to make it easier for all Singaporeans to participate in sports.
He announced that over S$50 million has been set aside to support community sports, while two existing schemes - the Sports-In-Precinct and SportCares programmes - will be expanded to reach out to more Singaporeans to realise the benefits of sports.
Sports-In-Precinct allows people the opportunity to play sports near their homes, while SportCares encourages disadvantaged youths to discover their strengths through sports.
Aspiring athletes that need help to realise their full potential will stand to gain from an additional S$50 million in grants over a five-year period.
On top of that, Mr Heng revealed that the government will provide up to S$50 million to match all sports donations dollar-for-dollar, to build a wider base of support for Team Singapore athletes.
There was also some good news for the cultural scene in Singapore, as Mr Heng announced a S$150 million top-up to the Cultural Matching Fund.
This fund, which provides dollar-for-dollar matching for donations to cultural institutions, was implemented in 2014 and has committed about S$150 million so far. The donations to arts and heritage causes have more than doubled since.
Taken as a whole, Mr Heng said the various measures will help foster a caring and inclusive society in Singapore.
"All of us can play a part in our communities. All of us have something to offer, be it time, expertise or the extra attention, to care for each other. It takes all of us to build an inclusive society," he said.
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