$30m fund to help people with disabilities

A $30 MILLION fund has been set up to make life better for people with disabilities, and those who care for them.

The money will go towards projects ranging from assistive technology to caregiver support, and to increase public education so as to help people with disabilities fit better into society.

The five-year programme, called the Tote Board-Enabling Lives Initiative, was launched yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a community health screening in Jurong.

The money will be available to groups such as voluntary welfare organisations, research institutions and social enterprises.

The Tote Board, which creates grants from surplus funds generated from the Singapore Turf Club, Singapore Pools and casino entry levies, came up with the money.

It will work with the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and SG Enable, an agency for those with disabilities, to roll out the initiative.

NCSS will lead the $4 million education drive, while SG Enable will administer the $26 million funding for the projects.

These could include programmes that provide support for people with disabilities when they move from one phase of life to another, such as when they graduate from special-needs schools and start looking for jobs.

Other projects could include those that look into innovations and how technology can improve their lives. The grant will fund up to 90 per cent of a proposal. "Research institutes may not know the needs of people with disabilities because it is not within their natural sphere of contact," noted SG Enable chief executive Ku Geok Boon.

So, the new initiative will bring research institutes, voluntary welfare groups and social enterprises together to work on ideas, she said.

Mr Abhimanyau Pal, executive director of SPD, which helps integrate people with disabilities into society, welcomed the new initiative.

"As a strong advocate of the use of assistive technology, we are heartened to see that the grant supports projects... which will help us provide more innovative services and assistive technology options to people with disabilities," he said.

Applications will open in January next year, and more details will be released in December. Civil engineering undergraduate Samuel Soh, 24, who has avascular necrosis - a condition where bone tissue dies due to the lack of blood - said the initiative could help those with disabilities better integrate into society.


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