Tackling domestic abuse and providing supports for victims is a priority for me as Minister and for Government. I am working with my colleagues and with our partners to ensure we have an appropriate collective national response that supports victims and holds perpetrators to account.
The Deputy will be aware that the draft Programme for Government contains a commitment to conduct an audit of statutory responsibilities in this area. I am committed to delivering on this commitment to audit how domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is segmented, the terms of reference have been agreed and include particular reference to policies and services designed to respond to victims’ practical needs and data collection and analysis to inform policymaking across the sector. This will provide valuable guidance for designing our systems to best meet the needs of victims and will determine what policy changes, or possible legislative changes, are required going forward.
My Department also coordinates the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, which is a whole-of-Government approach addressing the many actions necessary to address these matters fully. We are currently reviewing the outstanding actions under this whole of Government approach, which in addition to the audit will inform the 3rd National Strategy to be agreed before the end of 2021.
It is the aim of the Government collectively, and of myself as Minister for Justice to make available appropriate supports for people who are victims of Domestic Abuse to ensure there is a comprehensive approach that fully addresses their needs.
I am not specifically aware of any State companies who have adopted a workplace domestic violence policy but I am happy to review these if the Deputy would like to provide additional information in relation to which State companies he is referring.
I am aware of proposals to provide for paid leave and social protection supports for domestic violence victims more generally, but when it comes to the employer / employee relationship, consideration has to be given to how the victim would prefer the issue of domestic violence to be dealt with, including whether sensitive issues such as domestic abuse are best dealt with in a private and confidential manner between employers and employees, using existing leave mechanisms such as force majeure. In addition, any such provision, if advanced, would need to be considered within the appropriate legislative framework.
This Government is committed to putting in place the systems and structures needed to deliver on our commitment to combat domestic abuse and is working on many policy options and comprehensive consideration will be given to the systems, processes and structures on how to best support victims of Domestic Abuse.