Budget Ignores Needs of Domestic Violence Survivors Once Again

Needs of women and children living with violence almost totally ignored for sixth year running.

Safe Ireland said that it was gravely disappointed with the lack of targeted provisions in Budget 2020 for women and children living with violence and abuse.

The national social change agency working to eradicate domestic violence said that this represented the sixth budget in a row when the needs of women and children had been almost completely ignored.

Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that this was all the more disappointing given the Government’s heralded new Domestic Violence Act (commenced in early 2019) and its high-profile ratification of the Istanbul Convention on International Women’s Day.

Safe Ireland had called for the Government to commit to €30m in current expenditure across a variety of services, including funding to the Justice system and An Garda Síochána, and €20m in capital expenditure in 2020.  

While Safe Ireland welcomes the Budget provision for additional Garda recruits, the national agency said that the necessary widespread Garda training on domestic violence, recognising the new offence of coercive control, would not be provided for within presented Budget estimates.

It also said that the €29 million additional budget for Tusla was completely inadequate to ensure the investment needed by an already fragile, creaking and exhausted domestic violence infrastructure.

O’Halloran said that legislation and policy announcements would remain little more than PR stunts without adequate investment in the infrastructure and preventative measures needed every day by women and children.

“Legislation and the ratification of international conventions mean nothing if they are not backed up with proper and essential investment,” O’Halloran said.

“We are gravely disappointed that Tusla does not appear to have received adequate additional funding to allow for any meaningful investment in the maintenance and development of domestic violence services, as the critical first line response to women and children,” she continued.  “This already fragile network of specialist services and refuges is close to breaking point but this Government seems to think that this is acceptable, despite its false promises otherwise.”

Safe Ireland also said that housing provisions within the budget were extremely disappointing and completely unimaginative and would have a continuing devastating impact on women and children who are homeless once they leave their violent homes.  Housing instability is four times more likely for women who have experienced domestic violence compared with women who have not been victimised and approximately one in four homeless women cite intimate partner violence as a major contributor to their homelessness.

For more information contact: Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Needs of Women and Children Living with Violence Can’t Wait Any Longer – Safe Ireland Budget Submission

The Irish Courts Service needs serious investment.  It is creaking and struggling to respond effectively to both women and children seeking protection.

New research shows that the total average cost of domestic violence to a survivor is €115,790, delineated across three distinct phases from abuse to recovery.

Safe Ireland presented its pre-budget submission to Government today advising that budget caution cannot be used as the latest excuse for not investing adequately in the urgent needs of women and children living with violence in their homes.

The national social change agency working to prevent domestic violence in Ireland is calling on the Government to commit to €30m in current expenditure across a variety of services, including Justice and An Garda Síochána, and €20m in capital expenditure in 2020. 

It said that this was the sixth year in a row that they had repeatedly called for such an increase in current expenditure, knowing that this level of investment is a fraction of the cost of domestic violence to the state, to communities and to women and children.

Safe Ireland revealed that a new study conducted by NUI Galway and Safe Ireland is giving a clearer indication of the combined costs of domestic violence on an individual basis.  It is showing that the total average cost of domestic violence to a survivor is €115,790 delineated across three distinct phases of a woman’s journey from abuse to recovery.  Up to now, the oft-cited figure on the economic costs of domestic violence is €2.2bn per year.

“What this research is telling us is that women are being forced into poverty and economic dependence on the state,” Gleeson said.  “This dependency, in addition to their disproportionate utilisation of health and legal services, results in considerable costs for the state. Women’s capabilities and the future potential of their children who experience DV is also undermined.  Addressing DV is not only a moral imperative, it makes sound economic sense.”

The Safe Ireland submission focuses particularly on the urgent need for investment in “our creaking” courts system. The budget submission calls for €5.5 million in additional funding in the courts system to increase the number of judges appointed to hear domestic violence cases and to implement training programmes for court staff, including judges, on responding to coercive control and managing vicarious trauma.

It also calls for €10 million once-off additional budget investment for An Garda Síochána to implement a comprehensive training programme for their members.

“Gardaí are not sufficiently trained and there is a shortfall of trained officers to properly investigate coercive control,” Gleeson said.  “Based on successful models in Scotland there is clear evidence that a well-designed, resourced and coordinated training programme could result in at least 70% of Gardaí being trained within a 12 month period. In Scotland, there has been a huge cultural shift in the policing of coercive control.”

The last national statistics show that over 13,600 women and children (10,101 individual women and 3,685 individual children) received support from a domestic violence service.  However, research also shows that a massive 79% of women never report the most serious incidence of violence to the police in Ireland. Research is showing that only one woman in eight is coming forward for support from specialist services.

Safe Ireland has called for the following in Budget 2020:

·       Investment to strengthen specialist services for women and children.

·       Investment to prevent homelessness.

·       Investment to develop a world class policing and judicial response to DV survivors.

·       Investment in a national prevention programme.

The full pre-budget submission can be accessed here 

For more information contact:

Caitriona Gleeson, Tel: 087-2037177

Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

 

Safe Ireland publishes a review of their work for 2017 and 2018

On behalf of the Board of Safe Ireland we are delighted to present a review of our work for the years 2017 and 2018.

Safe Ireland believes that Ireland can become the safest country in the world. We are driving an ambitious 5-year strategy to change culture and transform the response to domestic violence in Ireland. Over the past two years there is an emerging groundswell of support against domestic violence in Ireland. Not least because Safe Ireland has increased the profile of the prevalence and nature of this issue through our leadership, lobbying and advocacy work.

During 2017 and 2018, Safe Ireland prioritised achieving key legal reforms to support victims of domestic violence. Through intelligent advocacy, dynamic collaboration, and through strategic engagement with key politicians we achieved landmark legislative change in 2018, by driving and advising on the new Domestic Violence Act 2018 and securing for the first time in Irish law Coercive Control as a criminal offence.

With our Members we piloted the Survivor Resilience Fund to support women to access or sustain safe accommodation and further developed the Safe Homes Safe Communities Programme which seeks to engage communities to prevent domestic violence and support disclosure and help-seeking. We designed and delivered innovative continuous professional development (CPD) training and learning events for our Members and other frontline domestic violence responders to support them in their work in responding to and supporting victims of domestic violence.

View Safe Ireland Review 2017/2018

Safe Ireland through hosting the Safe World Summit in 2018 continued to bring public voice to the real experiences of women and their children throughout Ireland. This has resulted in significantly more coverage of the reality of the issue being profiled in the media and in civic society. A clear recognition of the complexity of domestic violence and coercive control and its devastating impact on victims.

We have seen welcome developments in legislation and policy development. Ireland’s commitments under the Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women and the EU Victims Directive must be met and Safe Ireland will continue to have a key role in helping to deliver on those commitments.

Inspired by our country’s capacity to show that change is possible, we are very hopeful that through inspiring a national movement for a Safe Ireland we can dare to be the leaders that raise a generation of children who are free from violence – a generation that will grow with equal opportunities to realise their full potential. Just imagine the difference this would make to the world.

However, we know that to realise our vision for a safe Ireland for all we need to be brave, and open to change, open to new thinking, new partnerships, to letting go of what no longer serves us and to supporting an emerging generation of leaders who will carry the torch that will help realise this vision in their lifetimes.

View the Safe Ireland Review 2017/2018 here.

Safe Ireland wish to appoint a new Chief Executive Officer.

Chief Executive Officer

  • High Profile National NGO Advocating Progressive Social Change
  • Opportunity for a Leader with Energy & Initiative
  • Attractive Salary Package

The Organisation

Safe Ireland is the National Social Change Agency working to eliminate domestic violence in Ireland. We believe that Ireland can become the safest country in the world for women and children. Our vision is based on the belief that it is a human right of every single individual to live free from violence. We collaborate in our work with 36 specialist frontline domestic violence services throughout Ireland who are members of Safe Ireland.

The Role

  • You will work closely with and report to a highly skilled Board to realise its vision of a safe Ireland for women and children.
  • Drive the vision of the organisation and engage key players in the development of a movement for social change in Ireland.
  • Work strategically to attract investment in the drive to make Ireland safe for women and children.
  • Be responsible for the strategic leadership and operational management of the organisation working with a highly skilled team.

Skills Required

The successful candidate will have senior management experience with a proven track record in governance, strategic, operational, change, financial and human resource management. Having worked at a senior level advocating on behalf of and building relationships with multiple stakeholders including members, government, public bodies, funders and the media. Your leadership and staff management skills will be highly developed. You will have an understanding of gender-based violence and inequality and up-to-date knowledge of the National policy and strategy context relating to same.

To Apply

A Candidate Information Pack is available fromrecruitment@safeireland.ie

NB.  Please email client directly (recruitment@safeireland.ie) to receive the information pack.  CV’s are not accepted. 

To apply for the post complete the application form and return to recruitment@safeireland.ie by 5pm Friday, 5th of July 2019.

Late applications will not be accepted.

Families already living with the trauma of family murder must be central to new review – Safe Ireland and Kathleen Chada

Safe Ireland welcomed the news that the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan will today bring to Cabinet plans for an independent research study on supports to people whose relatives have been killed by a family member.

The national organisation working with 36 domestic violence services throughout the country said that the move is an acknowledgement that State agencies have to date failed families living with the trauma of family murder.  

However, it emphasised that it is important that the review addresses the immediate needs of families who have already been affected in the proposed review. 

Kathleen Chada, whose two sons were murdered by their father, joined Safe Ireland in its call to immediately centre-stage families already living with the life sentence of familicide.

“While we will support the study announced by the Minister, it just feels like a start and it should not delay supporting families at this point,” Kathleen Chada said.  “At the end of the day we know statistically and historically that more women and children may be killed while this study is being conducted. And so we have to ask what more is going to be done in the immediate to prevent more women and children being killed and what will be done to respond to families now. This hopefully isn’t an announcement that is pushing out something that needs to be managed and dealt with immediately.”

Caitriona Gleeson, Programme and Communications Manager with Safe Ireland also welcomed that the study will examine ways to introduce reviews of domestic homicides in Ireland.  Safe Ireland first called for such reviews in its report The Lawlessness of the Home published over five years ago.

“We welcome this review as the critical basis for the long awaited model of homicide reviews that we so desperately need in this country,” Gleeson said.  “We have to get this right for the many families that have been left hanging without adequate supports, advice and counselling.  We also have to do everything we can to prevent further murders of women and children.  That is why it is vitally important that this study is also informed by expertise which understand coercive control and trauma.  Safe Ireland looks forward to working with the legal expert in this regard.”

Finally, Safe Ireland welcomed the news that the review is also likely to examine the role of the media – both traditional, social and digital – in reporting on familicide cases.  Safe Ireland is currently involved in a project that is analysing the way in which family murder cases have been reported.

For more information contact: Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

 

 

Ratification of Istanbul Convention – Encouraging that Government sees it as a renewal of its commitment to violence against women

Safe Ireland warmly welcomes the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by Ireland today, International Women’s Day.

In particular, the national agency working to end domestic violence said that it was encouraged that the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has put it on record that ratification of the international legal instrument does not mean the end of the Government’s efforts but rather signals a renewal of the Government’s commitments to protect survivors of domestic and sexual violence and to hold perpetrators to account.

Caitriona Gleeson, Programme and Communications Manager with Safe Ireland, said that Ireland had made significant strides in areas such as policy, training and legislation over the past few years, however, the reality on the ground is that the response to women looking for safety every day remains fragmented.

“We are hugely encouraged by the sentiments of the Minister and Government that they see the Convention as a platform for further commitment to this issue,” she said after the Convention was officially ratified in Strausbourg.  “Ultimately we have a pivotal choice now. We can ratify the Convention and then revert to piecemeal business as usual.  Or we can ratify it and say, now let’s put in place the wrap-around resources, emergency accommodation, training, policies, support infrastructure, awareness programmes and whole of society response that will make Ireland the safest country in the world for women and children.”

“Because at the moment we are failing to meet the needs of women and children,” she continued. “We have no specialised trauma response services or specialised legal services, for example.  We still don’t have mechanisms for an interagency response to family annihilations, leaving families, as we saw over the past week, abandoned and searching for answers.  We can do much better, and it’s great to hear the Government committing to this.”

For more information contact:           Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

 

Ratification of Istanbul Convention – Catalyst to Get Things Right for Women and Children

Safe Ireland welcomes the news that Cabinet will sit on International Women’s Day and intends to ratify the Istanbul Convention to protect women from all forms of violence, including domestic violence.  It said that this was a further significant and positive step towards making Ireland a safer country for women and children. 

However, the national social change agency working to end domestic violence also said that the ambition of the Istanbul Convention would only be realised if the Government also committed to putting in place the specialised supports and services that women and children need to be safe from abuse and control.

Caitriona Gleeson, Programme and Communications Manager with Safe Ireland, said that while Ireland had made significant strides in areas such as policy, training and legislation over the past few years, the reality on the ground is that the response to women looking for safety remains fragmented. 

 “Ultimately we have a choice,” she said.  “We can ratify the Convention and then revert to piecemeal business as usual.  Or we can ratify it and say, now let’s put in place the wrap-around resources, training, policies, support infrastructure, awareness programmes and whole of society response that will make Ireland the safest country in the world for women and children.”

“Because at the moment we are failing to meet the needs of women and children,” she continued. “We have no specialised trauma response services or specialised legal services, for example.  We still don’t have mechanisms for an interagency response to family annihilations, leaving families, as we saw over the past week, abandoned and searching for answers.  We can do much better, and ratifying Istanbul gives us the incentive to do so.”

Ireland’s long-awaited ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, expected today, comes nearly eight years after it first opened for signatures in 2011.  The Convention became effective in 2014 and Ireland signed it in 2015.  Ireland is the 34th country to ratify the Convention.

For more information contact:           Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Working for Safer Homes and Safer Communities – Coercive Control Expert Evan Stark to Visit Ireland in December 2018

Safe Ireland is delighted to be hosting world renowned Professor Emeritus Evan Stark and other leading experts in domestic violence at a series of conferences, meetings and information sessions with professionals, survivors and advocates this December.

Increasing understanding

As part of a wider strategy to create safer homes and safer communities the public events will be a great opportunity to support professionals across disciplines to improve responses to domestic violence. Participants will be empowered with a greater understanding of what coercive control is while also strengthening their professional capacity to help recognise and respond more effectively to domestic violence. The events will also provide information relating to new measures in Irish legislation that are set to commence in 2019.

Multidisciplinary Conferences around Ireland

Safe Ireland is collaborating with a number of organisations to co-host a series of multidisciplinary conferences around Ireland. The conference ‘Understanding and Responding to Coercive Control‘ with Professor Emeritus Evan Stark, leading UK domestic violence expert Davina James Hanman and Irish legal expert Caroline Counihan will take place in both Sligo (12th December) and Clare (14th December).

Professor Stark will also speak in Dublin at the Strengthening Responses Conference being run by St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services in association with Safe Ireland.

Sligo

In Sligo, Safe Ireland will co-host ‘Understanding and Responding to Coercive Control‘ a one day conference with DVAS on December 12th, in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Sligo. For more information and to book your place, click here.

Clare

In Clare, Safe Ireland will co-host ‘Understanding and Responding to Coercive Control‘ a one day conference with the Clare Women’s Network on December 14th, in Ennis (venue to be confirmed). For further information and to book your place, click here.

Dublin

Professor Evan Stark will also be speaking in conjunction with Safe Ireland at the ‘Strengthening Responses Conference’ being hosted by St. Patrick’s Mental Health Service in Dublin on December 3rd, more information can be found here.

If you would like any further information on any of the events happening throughout December please contact office@safeireland.ie

Collaborators

 

 

Change will only start when we believe women who report violence, says Safe Ireland on eve of international Summit

On the eve of the biggest event on gender equality and gender-based violence to take place in Europe this year, Safe Ireland said that the first fundamental step to bringing about transformative change in the way society addresses domestic and sexual violence is to believe women who report violence.

The national social change agency working to eradicate domestic violence, hosting the international Summit, was blunt in its assessment that what we are doing as a society currently to address gender-based violence is not working.

The Safe Ireland Safe World Summit is taking place in The Mansion House on Monday and Tuesday, October 22nd and 23rd.  Over 35 world leading activists, advocates, lawyers, historians, journalists, and survivors are coming to Dublin to explore the meaningful solutions that are needed to support women and children experiencing violence.

Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that there was a long history of silencing and ignoring women’s voices in Ireland and across the globe, and that this had to stop.  Silence, she said, is the universal condition of oppression and inequality.

“Our members work with women who have had their children removed because they were not believed,” she said.  “We work with women who are under threat of their children being taken away on a daily basis by court mandated state agencies.  We work with women who have been abused and raped and then told to go home to their rapists.”

“We have seen in just the last week in our courts here in Ireland that serious offences that happen within intimate partner relationships are excused and minimised, with the needs and sensitivities of the perpetrator being put before the women and children who have been the victims of horrific assault.”

“A few weeks ago in the United States we saw that the default position of dominant power structures like politics is still a resounding ‘believe the man’,” she said.  We need our leaders to stand up and say, I believe her.”

She said that the root of all violence is in the home.

“We know that not everyone is born into or lives in a safe home but we haven’t figured out how to talk about it,” O’Halloran said.  “For too many women and children the home is a place of abusive tyranny and domination.”

Safe Ireland is hosting the international Summit in Ireland because it wants to place Ireland at the centre of the world’s possibility to transform violence against women and violence in the home particularly.   It believes that with the commencement and adequate resourcing of the new Domestic Violence Act 2018, and with political leadership Ireland can be a leading global example.

The Safe World Summit starts at 9 am on Monday, October 23rd with a symbolic opening ceremony when 50 survivors and young people will bring in light to the Round Room.  The morning session will hear from Dr. Edith Eger, a 91 Auschwitz survivor; Kathleen Chada, whose two young sons were murdered by their father; Luke and Ryan Hart, whose mother and sister were murdered by their father; Davina James Hanman, an expert on coercive control, and Robert Jensen, a US based journalism professor who will talk about the end of patriarchy. 

For more information contact:

Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207

Safe Ireland Says There is An Urgent Need for Stronger Sentencing for Partner Violence As Provided in new DV Act

Domestic Violence Agency saddened but not surprised at leniency of sentence in recent case and calls for DPP to consider an appeal.

Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to eradicate domestic violence, said that reports today that a man walked free from court following a serious assault on his partner underlined the urgent need for an enhanced sentencing regime to recognise the seriousness of the violence and the breach of trust that is at the heart of intimate partner violence.

The agency, which has 37 frontline member organisations, called for the swift commencement of the new Domestic Violence Act 2018, which recognises, for the first time, that violence within an intimate relationship is an aggravating factor for sentencing.

It was responding today to reports that a man who hit his wife twice across the head after dragging her upstairs and removing her jeans by force, was given a suspended sentence and walked free from court.

The agency also suggested that the DPP should consider appealing the sentencing on the grounds of undue leniency, which is within the powers of the office.

“We are saddened but not surprised at the leniency of the sentence in this case,” said Sharon O’Halloran, CEO of Safe Ireland.  “But, unfortunately, it is not unusual.  We have comprehensive evidence from survivors across the country that domestic violence is more often than not regarded as a mitigating factor in our courts rather than being seen for what it is – a serious assault and a serious crime.”

“The outcome of this case – which is just one case before our courts – underlines how important it is that the new Domestic Violence Act is commenced as soon as possible.  It is a ground-breaking piece of legislation that recognises violence within an intimate relationship as a greater offence, not one that can be excused or rationalised away.”

O’Halloran described the home as the last institution in Ireland to be opened up, examined and recognised as abusive tyrannies of domination for many women and children.  Until we see violence in the home as an offence that cannot be excused, at any level, we will not be in a position as a society to eradicate the misery and trauma it causes, she said.

For more information contact:  Edel Hackett, Tel: 087-2935207