Safe Ireland warmly welcomes the announcement by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee’s of an additional €6.8m in funding for Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence response measures.
Speaking after the Minister’s announcement, CEO of Safe Ireland Mary McDermott stated that
“These additional funds will mitigate some of the intense pressures that frontline services have experienced over the past number of years and enable them to respond to increasing demands on their services.”
The increase of €2.3m to the domestic abuse services nationwide will enable them to address some of the issues of acute sustainability and service-demand pressures they have experienced in recent years. In some instances, it will enable services to extend their reach into rural areas and expand their supports for children experiencing domestic abuse. The further allocation of €1.7m towards operational costs will help defray legacy shortfalls and mitigate the cost-of-living-crisis impact on the day-to-day running of services. A separate allocation of €1.1m for safe-accommodation measures will address some of the current deficits in refuge spaces and go some way towards mitigating some of the 3,000 requests for refuge that are unmet each year.
Responses for domestic abuse were critically underdeveloped prior to the pandemic, during which time, the extent of the problem came into sharp focus. Many services were severely curtailed due to lack of investment over many years and were reliant on donations to keep their operations afloat. Furthermore, as frontline services face the ongoing challenge of staff retention it is anticipated that some of the additional funding will allow for pay restoration and improved terms and conditions for domestic abuse workers. Although these charitable organisations provide a vital public service, pay inequality has been a significant driver of the exodus of experienced staff from the sector and is acting as a deterrent to the recruitment of new workers.
“Domestic abuse service providers have incrementally suffered from lack of investment over many decades which has resulted in overstretched services, inadequate running-costs, nationwide deficits in crisis refuge accommodation and an exodus of expertise from frontline services. It is vitally important that women and children fleeing abuse have immediate access to expert support and guidance, safe accommodation, judicial protection and welfare support. The 22% budget-increase committed by Minister McEntee to DSGBV will begin to redress some of the legacy sectoral deficits as we move towards achieving the strategic objectives of the Government’s strategy of zero-tolerance of domestic abuse.”
The Minister’s allocation addresses some of Safe Ireland’s proposals for service-development investment in its Pre-Budget 2023 Submission Naming Domestic Violence: Visible Investment for Change. It is important this commitment be built upon over the coming years