I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 22 together.
The response to Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (DSGBV) is a cross Departmental and multi-agency issue. Overall policy is coordinated by the Department of Justice. Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of DSGBV under the Child and Family Agency Act 2013.
Capital funding for approved housing bodies, including services that provide refuge accommodation for victims of DSGBV, is provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Tusla’s ‘Review of the Provision of Accommodation for Victims of Domestic Violence’ assesses the current and requisite distribution of safe emergency accommodation. It has examined the current level of refuge provision, evidence of demand for services and unmet need, and analysis of proximity to refuge by local communities.
The Review has been completed and is undergoing the final edit for publication. Tusla is expected to publish the Review shortly. I am not yet in a position to confirm if funding for refuges for victims of DSGBV will be provided for the establishment of a dedicated refuge in each county.
In 2021, I allocated €30m to Tusla specifically to support DSGBV services throughout the country. This included €2m for necessary supports to service providers arising from Covid-19.
In Budget 2022, Tusla has been allocated an additional €41 million over the 2021 allocation. I have directed Tusla to use part of these additional resources to maintain supports for DSGBV services and address the recommendations arising from Tusla’s Accommodation Review of refuge provision.
My Department will be guided by the recommendations of the Review. I expect that the implementation process for the Review will identify priority areas where there is greatest urgency in achieving safe accommodation for victims of DSGBV. This process will also guide the consideration for refuge spaces over the longer term, to include whether one is needed in every county but more importantly to ensure there is adequate geographical coverage of service to support victims.
Implementation will require collaboration from a range of statutory and other bodies. My Department continues to engage with Tusla, Non-Government Organisations that play a key role in this area, and other relevant Government Departments and Agencies, particularly the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Justice, to progress work in this area.
It is important that the needs of those who experience domestic violence are met in the most appropriate way possible.