I propose to take Questions Nos. 241 to 243, inclusive, together.
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual or gender-based violence, whether in the context of the family or otherwise.
Tusla has provided funding for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services since its establishment in 2014. This includes sixteen rape crisis centres and community-based counselling services for victims of sexual violence throughout the country.
Currently, services for victims of sexual violence in County Meath are provided by:
1. Rape Crisis Centre North East;
2. Athlone Midlands Rape Crisis Centre; and
3. Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
Funding to these services has increased year on year since 2016. Additional funding has also been provided to services that serve County Meath, in order to support efforts to reduce waiting lists by providing extra counselling hours.
As previously highlighted to the Deputy, I have secured additional funding of €1.5m for Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services in 2019, which will bring total available funding next year to €25.3m.
As part of its commissioning process, the Tusla Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Service programme is currently engaged in a number of needs analysis projects nationally to inform service development and provision for sexual violence services. A needs analysis project is currently underway in the Midlands region and includes consideration of service provision in County Meath. All future developments, both in County Meath and elsewhere will be informed by the commissioning approach.
With regard to the request for a dedicated educational worker to be employed by the service referred to the Deputy, Tusla has advised me that it has not received an application for funding for this purpose. It may be more appropriate that such an application should be made to the Department of Education.
It is important that the needs of victims of sexual violence are met in the best way possible, with due attention to the quality, accessibility, and outcome of services. I strongly support the work of Tusla, and I am committed to supporting the Agency in meeting the needs of individuals who experience sexual violence.