Friday 27 February 2015

Advisory council submits proposals to boost support, recognition for NS

Channel NewsAsia, 25 Feb 2015

The Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD) on Wednesday (Feb 25) announced it has submitted 18 proposals to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) aimed at boosting support and recognition for National Service (NS).

The 18 proposals include initiatives to help ease the transition for servicemen returning to school after full-time NS, encourage community organisations and small businesses to show appreciation for those in uniform and strengthen MINDEF's engagement with women's organisations, according to the ministry's press release.

ACCORD also proposed that MINDEF enhance the way it recognises and commends employers, businesses and organisations that go the extra mile to support NS.

The full list of recommendations:

Proposals for Employers and Businesses
- 1. Encourage more employers and businesses to receive early notification of their employees’ In-Camp Training call-ups through the NS portal
- 2. Encourage recognition of employees’ skill sets by providing performance feedback of employees who undergo Leadership Training Courses during NS
- 3. Introduce the “NS mark” to recognise supportive employers, businesses and organisations supportive of NS, and engender broad based support for NS
- 4. Implement the revamped Total Defence Awards to recognise supportive individuals and organisations, and strengthen advocacy for NS
- 5. Enhance new companies’ and Human Resource practitioners’ understanding of NS policies through NS Awareness Seminars
- 6. Collaborate with the business community to organise enhanced career fairs to assist NSFs’ transition to the workforce

Proposals for Families and the Community
- 7. Partner women organisations to engage women (mothers, wives, young women) and raise their awareness, understanding and support for Total Defence and NS through information sharing and small group engagement sessions
- 8. Partner community organisations and small businesses to recognise the contribution of NSFs and NSmen by offering benefits and discounts
- 9. Collaborate with Families for Life to create support for NS among families of NSFs and NSmen by raising their awareness of NS and national defence matters
- 10. Partner Integration and Naturalisation Champions from People’s Association, and work with associations and clans to reach out to New Citizens and Permanent Residents so as to raise their awareness, understanding and support for national defence and NS
- 11. Work with Ministry of Social and Family Development to support NSFs who require financial assistance beyond their full-time NS

Proposals for Educational Institutions
- 12. Review programmes currently available for Returning NSmen to better support their transition back to Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) after NS
- 13. Partner IHLs to help NSmen manage their NS ICT call-ups and academic commitments
- 14. Encourage the broader community to contribute to national defence by joining the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC), and groom SAFVC Volunteers to become ambassadors for the SAFVC
- 15. Partner MOE and Singapore Discovery Centre to create a Total Defence cohort experience for Primary Six students
- 16. Strengthen engagement of secondary school students on National Education issues through alumni and staff who are better able to identify and connect with students from their school
- 17. Implement in Post-Secondary Education Institutions a pilot programme to build up the fitness of their pre-enlistee students prior to full-time NS
- 18. Work with Foreign Systems Schools and Privately Funded Institutions to organise engagement sessions for pre-enlistees and parents to raise their awareness, understanding and support for NS and national defence
Chairman of ACCORD and Minister of Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said he was encouraged by the council's efforts to engage key stakeholders as well as families to explore ways to boost support for NS.

“I am heartened by the strong societal support for national defence and NS, and look forward to more of ACCORD’s good work in strengthening collaboration between the community, MINDEF and the SAF," Mr Chan said.

NSFs who get SAF aid may continue to get help after stint
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 26 Feb 2015

LESS well-off full-time national servicemen (NSFs) who receive financial aid from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) may continue to get help even after they complete their full-time stint.

Under a proposal to the Government by a feedback body on defence matters, these men will not have to reapply for financial help after their stints.

Instead, they will be automatically referred to the Ministry of Social and Family Development, which will likely pick up the tab to help them. This is one of the 18 proposals submitted by the Advisory Council for Community Relations in Defence (ACCORD), a panel formed in 1984 to help shape the efforts of the Ministry of Defence in getting the buy-in for defence and NS.

Other proposals include partnering women's groups to hold sharing sessions to improve awareness and understanding of defence issues among women; notifying employers and firms earlier when their staff are called up for in-camp training; and grooming ambassadors to promote the SAF Volunteer Corps.

The latest raft of proposals comes six months after ACCORD was restructured into three separate councils to strengthen the broader community's support for defence and NS. ACCORD member Claire Chiang, who sits on the Family and Community Council, said the panel wanted to address the "life-cycle needs" of less well-off NSmen.

Ms Chiang, a senior vice-president at Banyan Tree Holdings and a former Nominated MP, said it will take about two to three years for all the proposals to bear fruit, especially in changing the mindsets of women and new citizens towards defence and NS.

"In the last decade, we never thought that women were a significant player...we have missed the other half of the population. (Now) we are correcting (it), and are harnessing new opportunities for outreach," she added.


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