Encouraging social work practice research

11 April 2017 | General News
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Mr Chua, Trustee of the Mrs Lee Choon Guan Trust Fund, giving his speech during the launch event

With the aim of enhancing social work research, NUS Social Work launched the Mrs Lee Choon Guan Endowed Research Fund on 10 April. The research fund is a $2.37 million gift from the Mrs Lee Choon Guan Trust Fund, and is eligible for fund matching by the Government. The fund will support practice research projects that involve collaborations between practitioners and NUS researchers in the social work field to address real-world challenges in Singapore’s social service sector.

“This is a timely development, as there is a pressing need for more practice research in the social service sector to drive evidence-informed policy-making, resource planning and training of social workers to serve Singapore’s multicultural population,” said Associate Professor Esther Goh, Head of NUS Social Work.

This social work research fund is not the first time the Mrs Lee Choon Guan Trust Fund has supported education and research initiatives in NUS. To support philanthropy as a subject in NUS Business, Mr Keith Chua, great-grandson of Mrs Lee Choon Guan, and Trustee for the Trust Fund, presented the university with a gift of $1.5 million  in 2009 to help in the establishment of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy, renamed in 2011 as Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy.

As economic advancements improves Singapore’s standards of living and quality of life, unique delivery of social services is now more possible, said Mr Chua.

“Every society will have social needs. It is imperative that we pool our collective resources to keep developing appropriate and effective evidence-based interventions,” he added. “Our Trust Fund is pleased to continue this working collaboration with NUS. By partnering with NUS, we hope that research emanating from this initiative may also be found helpful in other communities, regionally and internationally.”

There is a pressing need for more practice research in the social service sector to drive evidence-informed policy-making, resource planning and training of social workers to serve Singapore’s multicultural population.

The first call for applications of research projects will be in 2018, and depending on the  viability, impact and potential for translation into training and teaching materials, each project will receive funding of between $20,000 and $30,000. Social workers will be matched with researchers from NUS Social Work who will partner them as co-principal investigators.

The opportunity to closely interact and work with practitioners and professionals on the ground which the programme offers will greatly benefit the University, said NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan in his speech at the official launch. “We will obtain a deeper and more complete understanding of the major issues in the social work arena as well as help to identify new opportunities where we can create and produce greater positive impact, both in the practice arena but also in terms of education and research programmes,” he added.

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(From left:) Assoc Prof Ghoh, Dr Ow, Prof Manthorpe and Dr Lim discussed features and challenges of practice research during the dialogue session

The launch event also featured a public lecture on practice research, where Professor Jill Manthorpe, Professor of Social Work at King’s College, London and Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, gave an overview of practice research in the social work field, peppered with anecdotes from her experience of it in the UK. The event concluded with a dialogue session, chaired by Dr Rosaleen Ow, Senior Lecturer at NUS Social Work and involving Prof Manthorpe; Dr Crystal Lim, a Master Medical Social Worker at the Singapore General Hospital; and NUS Social Work Associate Professor Corinne Ghoh. The dialogue session addressed questions including how practice research is conducted and its possible challenges, as well as clarified the guidelines relating to the research fund.

See press release.