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.”
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.