NUS Social Work Associate Professor Peace Wong and alumni honoured at this year’s Outstanding Social Worker Awards ceremony

Associate Professor Peace Wong conferred nation’s highest accolade in social work

The Outstanding Social Worker Award, the highest accolade for social workers in Singapore, has been conferred on Associate Professor Peace Wong for her unwavering dedication and stellar contributions to social work supervision and education. Assoc Prof Wong, who has been with the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) since 2007, has dedicated her time and service over the past three decades to uplifting the country’s social work supervision standards.

Two other NUS Department of Social Work alumni, Ms Flora Tan and Ms Nisha Verma, were also honoured as exemplary social workers for the remarkable impact they made on the community at the ceremony. Ms Nisha, who is currently with the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Child Protective Service, received the Promising Social Worker Award for her efforts in protecting neglected and abused children. Ms Tan, a senior social worker at Care Corner Singapore, was also recognised with the same Award for her efforts in developing innovative, evidence-based programmes to promote positive youth development.

Organised by the Singapore Association of Social Workers (SASW) and supported by MSF and ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, the annual awards recognise the contributions made by dedicated social workers who play an important role in enriching our society and supporting those in need. The 2023 awards were presented by Guest-of-Honour Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of the Republic of Singapore.

Passionate about developing the next generation of social workers

Throughout her time at NUS, Assoc Prof Wong has strived to provide a practice-oriented educational experience for students to develop their reflective thinking and competencies in social work practice. It was with this in mind that she established a robust field placement system for the Department that not only focuses on providing meaningful field placements for social work students but also ensures that the network of field supervisors from social service agencies is well-trained to support the learning of about 150 students annually.

Assoc Prof Wong has received many awards such as the NUS Faculty Teaching Excellence Award (yearly from 2014 to 2022), the NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award (in Academic Years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 as well as 2022), and has even been placed on the NUS Honour Roll (2023 to 2027). In addition to her role as Deputy Head of the NUS Department of Social Work, she now serves in the NUS Teaching Academy Executive Council and is also a Resident Fellow at NUS’ Ridge View Residential College, supporting the holistic development of residing students.

Professor Lionel Wee, Dean of NUS FASS, said, “Social work is quickly becoming a vital area not only in Singapore but also globally as we contend with increasingly complex social concerns such as ageing and social inequality. It is thus important that we have exemplars like Assoc Prof Peace Wong, who are both practitioners and educators, committed to grooming the next generation of social workers. Her work in academia and with social service agencies, government ministries, and professional bodies, also ensures that social workers are well-trained, well-supported and better equipped to serve their community.”

Assoc Prof Wong said, “I am humbled to receive the award and would like to dedicate this award to my family and social work colleagues who choose this profession and work tirelessly to fulfil its mission.”

Emphasising the need to evolve social work education to society’s changing needs, the NUS alumna and passionate educator shared: “Social work education is not just about learning knowledge and skills, it is about facilitating our students to find congruence within themselves and the mission and values of social work.”

She hopes that social work students will be challenged to embrace critical thinking and interdisciplinary ideas to evolve social services that are relevant with the times.

Outside of NUS, Assoc Prof Wong is appointed to various advisory boards, committees and panels in the government and social service agencies as testament to her deep expertise. These include MSF, SHINE Children and Youth Services, and Fei Yue Community Services. She is also currently the chairperson of various workgroups under the Social Work Accreditation and Advisory Board. During this time, she has led the implementation of important initiatives such as the Social Work Supervision Guidelines, supervisory competency domains, social work supervision seminars, and training programmes for the Supervision of Supervisory Practice.

Wanting to advance supervision standards, Assoc Prof Wong developed the “PEACE process-in-context” supervisory model to guide supervisors in balancing their administrative, educational and supportive roles. Since 2017, she has trained over a few hundred field educators and Master’s students in its principles. Her work has also been recognised beyond Singapore’s shores where she is involved in global initiatives, such as the Asian Family Summit and other international networks.

Click here to view the SASW videos of all three award winners.