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Domestic Violence

Dáil Éireann Debate, Friday - 3 December 2021

Friday, 3 December 2021

Questions (64)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

64. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his Department’s strategy to support victims of domestic violence including proposals to provide a statutory entitlement to domestic violence leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59452/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The response to Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (DSGBV) is a cross Departmental and multi-agency issue. The Department of Justice leads national policy, coordinates the progress on actions under the Second National Strategy on DSGBV and is currently developing the Third National Strategy.

I am keen to support the development and implementation of the 3rd National Strategy on DSGBV with a particular focus on prevention as outlined in our Programme for Government.

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. 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.

I am keen to address the shortage of refuge spaces in the country. Tusla’s ‘Review of the Provision of Accommodation for Victims of Domestic Violence’ assesses the current and requisite distribution of safe emergency accommodation and 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. I have agreed with the Minister for Justice that the findings of Tusla’s Review would inform actions under the Third National Strategy on DSGBV.

Key initiatives to combat DSGBV that are currently underway in my Department, include:

- The roll-out of child-centred services for child and adolescent victims of DSGBV through the Barnahus pilot project in Galway with Cork, and Dublin to follow.

- Consideration of a process to introduce paid domestic violence leave and benefit, with a view to bringing forward proposals to Cabinet by the end of the year. Ireland will be one of the first countries in Europe to adopt domestic violence paid leave on its introduction.

- Tusla continues to work with funded service providers on the expansion of outreach services in locations across the country and in the provision of individual Safe Home units that enable those fleeing domestic violence to find safety.

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