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MSF launches 24-hour helpline for victims, public to report family violence, other abuse

SINGAPORE — Those who wish to report family violence, or other forms of abuse and neglect, may now turn to a first integrated phone line that operates round the clock, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Tuesday (Feb 23).

The new integrated helpline launched by the Ministry of Social and Family Development will make it easier for victims of abuse to seek help.

The new integrated helpline launched by the Ministry of Social and Family Development will make it easier for victims of abuse to seek help.

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SINGAPORE — Those who wish to report family violence, or other forms of abuse and neglect, may now turn to a first integrated phone line that operates round the clock, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Tuesday (Feb 23).

The National Anti-Violence Helpline, which began operating on Jan 18, eliminates the need to navigate multiple helplines for various forms of family violence and enables faster response, MSF said in a media statement.

The number of the National Anti-Violence Helpline is 1800-777-0000.

The integrated phone number aims to replace the support provided by five helplines for reporting child abuse and another five for family violence under MSF and its community partners. These helplines will remain operational to manage existing cases.

Ms Sun Xueling, co-chair of the family violence task force set up in February last year to tackle the rise in such cases, said that there was a 40 per cent spike in the number of calls to the various family violence helplines between January and October last year, compared with the year before.

In April, MSF said that it had seen an increase in referrals and inquiries on domestic violence since the start of the circuit breaker period, which was in April and May, when people mainly stayed at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

However, the number of cases that were investigated by MSF’s Child Protective Service and Adult Protective Service is “roughly stable”, at about 120 cases a month, Ms Sun said. 

The Minister of State for Social and Family Development added: “Regardless, we still feel that it’s important that we coordinate our efforts to tackle family violence effectively and that’s why we want a one-stop helpline.” 

The new helpline has so far been used by about 450 callers, MSF said.

It is manned by professionals from social service agency Montfort Care and customer service officers from logistics firm DHL, who underwent a week’s training with MSF’s Child Protective Service and Adult Protective Service to understand how to respond to family violence victims.

Ms Tan Si Yin, who leads the team, told TODAY that the officers assess the severity and frequency of each case before deciding on the next step, such as providing basic psycho-social support or referring them to suitable agencies to get help.

The 30-year-old senior social worker with Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre, managed by Montfort Care, added: “We would ask questions like, 'When was the last time (the act of violence) happened?' or 'How often has it happened?'

“All these questions help us gather more information to determine the risk level and the type of services we can bring in for the caller.”

The authorities may be called to intervene if the caller is assessed to be in a situation that poses an immediate danger, she added.

MSF said that it would develop other modes of reporting such as internet live chat or WhatsApp chat in the second half of this year.

Members of the public or professionals may contact the helpline to report suspected cases of abuse or make general inquiries. It operates primarily in English, with Mandarin-, Malay- and Tamil-speaking professionals available if needed.

Related topics

MSF National Anti-Violence Helpline abuse family domestic violence

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