When was the first women’s helpline at AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) launched?
Before its current location at Dover Crescent, AWARE occupied the upper floors of a Little India shophouse. We launched Singapore’s first women’s helpline there on January 7, 1991. It was born out of a need to create a safe space for women who were in distress and needed a listening ear and non-judgmental advice. 

How fast did the helpline gain traction?
Very quickly. People often find it difficult to speak to friends or family members about personal troubles; there’s a fear that the listener might not be empathetic or might pass judgmental comments which can lead to feelings of isolation. Women immediately called about marital conflict, family violence and other things. 

How does the Women’s Helpline work?
We only run one Women’s Helpline and offer a call-back request option and online live chat. Live chats are conducted via Zoom with the video and audio both off. We also have the Sexual Assault Care Centre (6779 0282), and the Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Advisory (6777 0318).

Does one subject reoccur?
More than one-third of callers in 2021 reached out due to emotional and psychological distress. We saw a rise in family violence cases due to pandemic lockdowns, where survivors often had to be in close proximity to their abusers. 

Along with a listening ear, how else does the helpline provide proactive support?
Our helpliners can provide referrals to AWARE’s internal services and external agencies. Depending on the caller’s circumstances, we can refer them to emergency shelters, family service centres, family violence specialist centres and the Family Justice Court. We introduced counselling services in June 1991 and we also run a free legal clinic; our team of volunteer lawyers are available for a 30-minute appointment via the helpline. 

Your current Helpline Fund aims to raise $250,000 by the end of 2022. Where will this money go?
People often underestimate how much it takes to run a well-oiled, effective helpline. On the operational side, running the service requires a sizeable technological investment, as well as intensive training for our volunteers. We need as much support from the public as possible to ensure that we can keep up with growing need and remain the premiere service for women in Singapore.

What’s the priority for AWARE’s Women’s Helpline in 2023?
Providing timely support. Our goal is for the Women’s Helpline to never miss a call, and to be accessible to as many women in distress as possible. 

How can ANZA readers volunteer on the Women’s Helpline?
All our helpline volunteers are trained by AWARE staff. Recruitment takes place every one or two years, and eligible volunteers undergo intensive training that consists of three phases. Do keep a lookout for the new recruitment cycle next year via our social media platforms or subscribe to AWARE’s monthly newsletter. 

The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) is Singapore’s leading women’s rights and gender equality advocacy group aware.org.sg