This Government is committed to preventing and addressing sexual violence in Ireland. It is extremely important to Government, but more importantly to victims of this violence, that policy is effective and driven by accurate, up to date, reliable data. Knowledge and information are essential to making effective policies to prevent and combat sexual violence.
As the Deputy will know, in January 2018 the agreed terms of reference for the expert Scoping Group to consider the availability of data and make recommendations on a study to identify the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in Ireland and the emerging trends were made available on my Department's website. The Group first met on 5th January 2018 and the terms of reference provided that the group report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy within three months of that first meeting.
This is a large and complex survey and the expert Scoping Group draft report made clear that delivering a survey that met the highest standards would be a significant undertaking and a multi-annual project. Following the completion of the draft report, a requisite further piece of technical, legal and ethical work was then undertaken before proposals were brought to Cabinet.
On 20th November 2018, the Government approved a national survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. On 10th January 2019 the Department and the Central Statistics Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the undertaking of the survey.
The CSO then began the preparatory work on the large scale survey, called the Sexual Violence Survey (SVS). This survey, which looks in detail at the experience of sexual violence and abuse for both women and men in Ireland, is being undertaken between 2019 and 2023, with repeat surveys every decade.
As regards funding of the SVS project, my Department has provided €150,000 in 2019; €682,000 in 2020; and €59,000 for 2021. Funding arrangements for work in 2022 are currently being finalised. At project initiation an overall project cost of €5 million was estimated.
While COVID-19 has presented some challenges, this important project is on target to be completed and the report published in 2023.