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She learned sign language to help hearing-impaired probationer

This article was originally published on the Singapore Public Service Blog.


Senior Community Service Officer Ms Artini Hamzah works to ensure that probationers have meaningful community service placements. For one special case, she went as far as acquiring a new skill in order to communicate with him.

Ms Artini works in the Probation Service department of the Rehabilitation & Protection Group, at the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Her job isn’t simply about assigning probationers to their tasks. Ms Artini works with the probationers themselves, their families, community partners and other stakeholders to ensure a successful placement. She makes the effort to identify the strengths and talents of each probationer, and match their placements to them.

“The job involves not just engaging probationers to perform their best during community service,” she explains, “but also exercising a lot of our creativity in planning for community service placements or projects that the probationers can meaningfully contribute to, while meeting the needs of the agencies. This includes convincing more community partners to open their doors to probationers.”

A dedicated officer, Ms Artini even signed up for sign language classes – conducted outside office hours – in order to better communicate with a hearing-impaired probationer.

“I wanted to build a better rapport with the probationer,” she recalls. “I also wanted to better understand the culture of the hearing impaired community.”

Ms Artini approached various agencies to find available placements for the probationer, making several site visits to see if he would be able to assimilate within each environment and get along with the local staff and volunteers. When the probationer received his placements, she attended his training sessions on two Sundays and on another occasion, accompanied him while he did his community service duty.

She says, “He felt appreciated when he was exposed to other people in the community, such as those with disabilities, and his self-confidence was also boosted when he was able to contribute in his own ways.”

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Thanks to the care Ms Artini took in arranging placements, several of her probationers have shared that they are keen to continue volunteering even after completing their community service.

“It’s extremely rewarding to hear their reflections about how community service has allowed them an opportunity to make amends for the offences they committed. Though I may not be able to turn their lives around completely, I know that somehow, small or big, I’ve touched their lives and made them better people.”


Ms Artini is one of the recipients of the PS21 Distinguished Star Service Award at this year’s Excellence in Public Service Awards ceremony.

“You are a human first, before a therapist”

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By Sylvia @ MSF

Sylvia is a forensic psychologist at MSF. She looks at rehabilitating offenders and helping them reintegrate into society.


When she saw him sitting in the hallway, her heart sank. Seeing them back in the Boys’ Home was always difficult.

“I asked myself if there was something I could have done better then,” Sylvia recounted.

John (not his real name) was initially put on probation after being convicted of robbery. However, he soon reoffended a few months into treatment.

As a trained forensic psychologist, Sylvia’s role was to ascertain the offenders’ reasons for offending and assess their risk of reoffending. She was then to work with her team to craft and carry out a rehabilitative program tailored to the offender’s needs.

One of the challenges that she faced when she first started the job was the tendency to doubt herself when the client reoffended.

But one particular counselling with her supervisor has stayed with her since:

“You are a human first, before a therapist.”

And it is these very words that have given her the strength to preserve. Everyone is human, including the officers – it is therefore only natural to have an emotional reaction to the case.

“What was important was to make self-care a priority,” Sylvia said. “And to know that different people respond differently to therapy and some may fall back into old habits. Rehabilitation is a continuous process that takes time and effort. The best way to go about it would be to take things in stride and to motivate clients to sustain their improvements, albeit big or small.”

Often, the offenders that she saw to were convicted of crimes ranging from violence, abuse, sexual assault and rape – many of which are ‘major’ offences that society would shun from.

Why then, did she choose to engage the offenders rather than the victims?

“If everyone were to only work with the victims, then who will help the offenders?” Sylvia said.

Back at the Boys’ Home, Sylvia sat her client down and began the process of figuring out the factors associated with his offending behaviour.

When further probed into his reason for committing robbery, John believed that violence was the way to get the victim to meet his demands. As how he witnessed his father beat his mother to get something done around the house.

Offenders like him were often victims themselves to violence, abuse and neglect; and lack appropriate guidance and support, especially as they were growing up.

And believing in the need to help them find their way back onto the right track has kept her going through the ups and downs of being a forensic psychologist.

“If you only help the victims and not the offenders… then the cycle never stops,” Sylvia said.

The Toughest Job in the World

By Parliamentary Secretary Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim

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My late mother with her grandchildren

A mother’s job is to be on call – 24/7.

A mother has to multi-task between running the household, caring for the family, deal with ‘skirmishes’ between siblings…and so much more!

I think being a mother is the toughest job in the world. No previous experience required, but plenty of on-the-job training available. Although tough, the job comes with love, care and concern.

I remember my own late mother became the beacon of light for my family.  She worked very hard in the day, cooking in the early hours of the morning before going to work.   Sometimes, I wondered what kept her going.  It was clearly the love, care and concern that she had for the family.  It was also her sense of responsibility for the family.  My siblings and I are privileged to be part of this journey with her, which in turn shaped our character and lives.

Today, a woman’s role in society has evolved. Many mothers are active in the workforce. The proportion of dual-income married couples has also increased.

Juggling between work and family life is a struggle many mothers face. Previously, women were more likely to cite family-related responsibilities as the main reason for not working. Such choices are often personal, as all families have their unique situations.

We have put in place a number of initiatives to better support parenthood and families. This includes more family-friendly infrastructure and policies such as paternity leave and CDA First Step to help defray childcare costs.

Now, we have the choice to build and maintain strong family ties. I urge all dads out there to get more involved with (not only!) housework but in child care. I’m sure many of you can become as pro as Mom in no time!

This Mother’s Day, let’s take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices that the mothers in our life have made. Let’s give our moms and wives all the love they have given us, back to them.

Dads out there, let’s share the load. Let’s start small. I’m sure it will go a long way in truly supporting our wives.

Every Day is Mother’s Day

By Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

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My Mum and I

When our children were younger, they would hold your hand, come running to you to hug you and they will just absolutely adore you.

As they grow older, our love will also grow and our relationship with them will evolve. They will begin to have lives of their own and in turn, will one day become parents themselves too.

In our eyes, they will always be our little children. But do we not realise that our parents probably look at us the same way too? Do we take our parents for granted? Do we get more impatient as they begin to slow down with age? Do we show enough appreciation to them?

Occasions like Mother’s Day provide us an opportunity to reflect, remember and to celebrate. I am sure we all have our family traditions. It can range from flowers, chocolates, big dinners, or simple homemade cards or just preparing breakfast.

In truth, as a son, father and husband, I have come to realise that our wives and mothers deserve more than these once a year grand gestures of appreciation. We really should show our appreciation every day through our actions.

Making it a point to visit parents regularly or even just to call them are some things that we children can do for our parents. Simple gestures like helping to supervise the children’s homework, changing the baby’s diaper, or washing the dishes are just some things that we fathers can do for our families.

Although many women are the main caregivers for their children, more fathers do want to be involved. We want to encourage this and to provide more support such as paternity leave and flexi-work arrangements.

So what will you be doing this Mothers’ Day?  And what should we do to treat every day as Mother’s Day?

Meanwhile, to all the mothers and grandmothers out there, I wish you Happy Mothers’ Day!