Fatimah: Sarawak govt committed to improving, supporting OKU’s welfare

Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah

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KUCHING, Sept 16: The Sarawak government strives to provide rehabilitation and support services for differently abled individuals (OKU) of all ages to empower them to receive educational, vocational and employment opportunities.

According to Minister for Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah in a statement today, as the State prospers, Sarawak continues to work towards building an inclusive society where no one is left behind and a full spectrum of services are available for OKU from cradle to grave.

“KWKPK (the ministry), through its OKU Development Unit and Social Welfare Department, has been actively striving to better the lives and improve the well-being of OKU in Sarawak.

“Rehabilitation services and support system for OKU in Sarawak are provided by Community-Based Rehabilitation Centres (PPDKs), Samarahan Rehabilitation Centre as well as Sri Sarawak Workshop under Social Welfare Department and the newly established One-Stop Early Intervention Centre (OSEIC) Sarawak, which is under KWKPK,” she said.

Fatimah noted KWKPK also set up Sarawak OSEIC which was officially launched on Oct 30, 2020, and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) has contributed a one-off allocation of RM4 million to start Sarawak OSEIC as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.

“Subsequently, the Sarawak government has approved an additional allocation of RM11,180,000 for the five-year management and operation of this centre, where it provides diagnosis, therapy, early intervention and rehabilitation services for young children with autism, Down syndrome and learning disabilities aged 7-years-old and below,” she added.

Fatimah pointed out that this one-stop centre also supports parents and caregivers and aims to foster a caring and inclusive community.

“Besides providing diagnosis, the centre gives support services which include clinic, intervention and rehabilitation (gym) facilities, learning or activity centre, sensory room, Snoezelen room, hydrotherapy room and consultation room for examination and diagnosis, and as of Aug 31, 2021, a total of 220 children have been registered at Sarawak OSEIC,” she said.

Meanwhile, Fatimah said the Special Needs Community Centre (SNCC) which is scheduled for completion in December 2025, has also been approved with a scheme value of RM55 million under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

She explained the allocations of RM1.5 million and RM3.5 million are to be released in 2022 and 2023 respectively that would equip SNCC to be a functional well-integrated and one-stop community centre for the special needs community under one roof, with diagnosis, early intervention, primary and secondary education, vocational training, sheltered workshop, daycare centre and full-time residential home.

“SNCC will have a pool of professional support consisting of special education teachers, physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists to provide counselling and guidance for students, parents and teachers.

“Skills training, with certification where possible, is provided to equip OKU with the necessary skills to be employable in the job market or to become entrepreneurs,” she said.

For those who cannot compete in an open job market, Fatimah continued, they can work at sheltered workshops under proper guidance and supervision.

“In addition, recreational and talent development facilities are available. More severely affected OKU adults are placed in daycare centres to enjoy peer interaction and perform simple daily tasks. Full-time residential homes provide severely affected OKU with care and support 24/7 when parents or guardians pass on.

“Thus, SNCC will enhance the care and promote the wellbeing of OKU of all ages,” she added. — DayakDaily