On 20th November 2018, the Government approved a new national survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland. Following this, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Central Statistics Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 10th January 2019 regarding the undertaking of the survey.
The CSO has now begun the preparatory work on the large scale survey, called the Sexual Violence Survey (SVS), which will look in detail at the experience of sexual violence and abuse for both women and men in Ireland, with repeat surveys every decade.
This is a large and complex survey. The Government’s expert Scoping Group report made clear that delivering a survey that met the highest standards would be a significant undertaking and a multi-annual project.
I am aware that some concern has been expressed about how long it will take to complete the survey, but I believe it is vitally important that the survey is done in the right way. I want to ensure that the State undertakes an ongoing programme of research of the highest quality, in a sensitive and ethical way, to ensure a robust set of data to inform Government policy. The complexities and timeframes involved have been acknowledged by several of the NGOs involved in the sector.
The CSO, the expertise and professionalism of which is widely acknowledged, has provided an estimated timeline of up to five years for completion, including a full first year of technical research, design, specialist training and preparation. The preparatory phase will also involve a stakeholder consultation process, consideration of best international practice and the conducting of a full pilot survey in the field in 2020.
The CSO has indicated it will be in a position to give further certainty on completion date, timelines and costs after it finalises its preliminary work in 2019. The provision of reliable, robust, objective and internationally comparable information requires that the planning and execution of this survey is undertaken in a professional and comprehensive manner. To do otherwise may compromise the quality of the resulting data. Therefore, the anticipated extensive duration of the new Sexual Violence Survey (SVS) is necessary to ensure that all aspects of the survey are undertaken and completed to the highest possible standard.
Funding of €150,000 has been provided for the work in 2019 and the Government has agreed in principle to fund the rest of the project which has the strong support of both myself and my colleagues in Cabinet.