Demystifying welfare assessment in Singapore: Results of a pilot study

Tan, Gerard (2000). Demystifying welfare assessment in Singapore: Results of a pilot study Master's Thesis, School of Social Work and Human Services, The University of Queensland.

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Author Tan, Gerard
Thesis Title Demystifying welfare assessment in Singapore: Results of a pilot study
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Work and Human Services
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2000-08-04
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Open Access Status Other
Supervisor Paul Smyth
Collection year 2000
Language eng
Subjects 370102 Social Policy and Planning
Abstract/Summary Singapore's governments have consistently been opposed to the ideology of state welfarism. Since gaining independence in 1965, they have rejected the implementation of a comprehensive state-funded social security system, believing it to be not only fiscally untenable but also morally pernicious. Instead, the emphasis has been on personal and community responsibility. With the notion of income support antithetical to the ethos of the nation's social policy regime, state-funded public assistance is limited and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) provide much of the financial aid that is applied to poverty relief. More than 40 organisations of various cultural, religious and philosophical orientations are involved in this role. For many of these NGOs, the assessment process is based on the exercise of professional discretion by caseworkers. While this affords great flexibility in the capacity to respond to need, worker biases and manipulation of the system by canny applicants work against an equitable distribution of scarce resources. In the absence of standard criteria for assessing eligibility, achieving any meaningful level of consistency is a major challenge to welfare professionals. This thesis aims to lay the foundation for the development of a practice standard for professional welfare assessment in Singapore. Examination of the international literature on poverty definition found that much of it related to Britain, the Netherlands and the United States. Given that these countries have substantially different physical and cultural circumstances from Singapore, the definitions proposed by preceding studies are not directly applicable to the target context. Accordingly, a three-stage Delphi survey of practitioners was undertaken in Singapore. The survey explored current trends in welfare assessment by canvassing caseworkers to compile an inventory of standard of living indicators used in the field to discriminate between eligible and ineligible applicants, mapping indicators onto assessment outcomes and rating the goodness-of-fit of such mappings. Content analysis, multi-dimensional scaling and non-parametric tests of significance were applied to the data. As a pilot study, this project is necessarily limited in its scope. However, it provides a basis for further exploration of welfare practice in Singapore. It identifies regularities as well as symmetries in practitioner agreement about particular characteristics of the standard of living indicators used in assessment. As well, it presents hypotheses formulated on the basis of these findings alongside recommendations for future research.
Keyword Welfare policy

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Created: Thu, 20 May 2010, 19:43:29 EST by Gerard Tan on behalf of School of Social Work and Human Services