What I’d Like to Say to Social Workers (Part 1)

By Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

In January this year, I met with 160 Principal Social Workers from the healthcare and social service sectors at their annual Seminar.  We had a great chat about the complexity of social work issues and the ethical dilemmas our social workers had to deal with.

These are passionate, self-driven social workers and leaders in the profession, and I was very encouraged by their energy and enthusiasm to help those in need around us.

I would like to share the 10 thoughts I raised with these social workers at the session. I hope they will be useful to you – whether you are an aspiring social worker, volunteer, or just someone who wishes to understand what social workers go through.

Let’s start off with the first 3:

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1. Social Workers are Agents for Change

In fact, the whole social service sector is a vehicle for change.

The work that social workers do isn’t just about helping the less privileged, but everyone in Singapore as well. In the process of giving and caring for others, we also receive and we begin to reconnect with our sense of compassion and humanity.

There is a ripple effect. Through social work, and through getting people involved, society as a whole benefits when we build a selfless society.



2. Together, We Can Do Better

Many of you would agree that the healthcare and social service sectors are strongly intertwined, with many stakeholders, volunteer welfare groups and ad hoc volunteers involved.

Everyone has a different part to play, and that makes collaboration, partnership and bridging all the more important.

So, social workers need to build trust and connections within the sectors. After all, they are all working toward the same goal, even if some views differ at times.


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3. Learning Never Stops

Learning never stops – not for you, not for me, not for social workers.

Rather, it is an ongoing process. We need to evaluate and subject ourselves to introspection now and then, and for social workers, that process can start by reflecting on past events.

What went well? What did not? What can be done differently next time, and what were the lessons learnt?

So, to our social workers and to all of you, let us keep learning. Only then can we improve ourselves from strength to strength.


Summing it up, social workers are ordinary people like you and me, walking the same journey as everyone else. Yet, they have the extraordinary potential to change the world around them. Keen to hear more about my other points? Look out for my next post 😉