Budget 2022 Fails to Prioritise Domestic Violence

Safe Ireland has expressed great disappointment at the failure of government to invest in critical domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) response measures in Budget 2022.

Speaking in reaction to the Expenditure Allocation document published on Wednesday, CEO Mary McDermott stated that

“It is beyond disappointing, indeed offensive, that despite national prioritisation, and huge efforts by so many to heighten both public and political awareness of the scale of violence against women, and against children; despite evidence of the cost to survivors, their families, communities and the State, that government has again failed to commit to a coherent response in this budget cycle.”

It is notable from the budget document that there is a refusal to clearly address and prioritise domestic violence as a national social problem, and no progress has been made towards integrated funding. Finance for frontline DSGBV services remains an under-resourced subset within a Tusla Children and Family Support Programme budget, a separate state agency under the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

“Whilst Tusla has been given an increase in its global allocation for 2022, there is no specified allocation for DSGBV. This means domestic violence services and rape crisis centres will now have to compete against each other for resources, and against Tusla’s other priorities, including its own corporate development.”

 

The Budget 2022 document commits only to “maintaining” an unspecified budget for DSGBV services within Tusla, with no commitment for additional resources to respond to the 19 new women and 3 new children contacting a local service every day over the past 12 months. Whilst acknowledging the role of Tusla as a respondent for child victims of DSGBV, it is reprehensible that adult women victims of violence are relegated to that of a subset within “child and family” support services, with no dedicated funding line in their own right.

Equally deficient in the budget document is the absence of any commitment for emergency, transitional, or long-term accommodation and housing for women fleeing violence. Safe Ireland has costed and called for commitments to increase refuge capacity, implement a Safe-at-Home Sanctuary Scheme, and make provision for transitional housing, yet none of these urgent necessities were included in the governments housing capital programmes. It is also disconcerting to note that despite the acknowledged need for Rent Supplement to be made a permanent offering for victims of DV, no clear commitment in this regard was included in the budget statement.

Safe Ireland welcomes the Dept of Justice commitment to advancing its preventative work in awareness-raising and training, and its intent to invest more in Garda resources, including the investigation of DSGBV crime. Nevertheless, given the structural failure of the cancelled 999 calls, it is unclear whether or not this increase in funding will manifest as additionality or simply supplement evident inefficiencies in existing policing levels.

In conclusion, McDermott stated that “2020 marked a moment in history when Irish society collectively identified and prioritised domestic violence as a large-scale social problem. In 2021 we have been shocked by increasing incidents of femicide, familicide and infanticide in Ireland. 2022 will see the commencement of Ireland’s Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence. This is the first strategy developed since Ireland ratified the Istanbul Convention Treaty. It coincides with heightened public awareness of the need for coherent response and increasing outrage at wide-spread violence against women and girls. Sadly this budget indicates that our public policy makers and political leaders remain resistant to substantive response and systemic change. Our national journey on domestic violence since the outbreak of Covid19 has generated wide-scale community support and mobilised generous public responses to the issue; therefore women, children, and society at large deserved a better response from Government in Budget 2022.”

No Going Back – Safe Ireland Pre-Budget Submission 2022

SAFE IRELAND PUBLISHES PRE-BUDGET 2022 SUBMISSION

Safe Ireland has today published its Pre-Budget Submission 2022 calling on Government for an investment of €172.99m in domestic violence protective and preventive measures across ten government Departments. The submission includes some measures that will require additional spending, alongside others that seek a share of existing resources to be apportioned to domestic violence responses. Headline requests include a €4m increase in financing to frontline domestic violence services across the country to enable them to respond to the huge increase in demand; €1.7m for a Safe at Home Sanctuary Scheme which would allow some survivors to safely remain in the family home after the perpetrator has vacated; and €161m investment in 338 new emergency refuge spaces with special consideration to the nine counties with no units whatsoever. The document also includes proposals for preventive measures including €2.13m to be invested in quality research and robust data collection to provide a reliable evidence base for assessing the problem in Ireland along with a request for €.78m investment in preliminary local community-led response initiatives through the LEADER and SICAP programmes.

Speaking to the publication CEO Mary McDermott stated that

“Whilst €179m may seem like an ambitious ask, we would like to draw attention to the government’s Summer Economic Statement which stated its intention to make €500 million in tax cuts in Budget 2022. We are calling for a deferral of these tax cuts in order to fund investment in protecting women, and children, from domestic violence; and to mitigate the increasing incidents of femicide, familicide and infanticide that have become ever more prevalent. We are certain that there enough widespread concern about issues of violence against women that a tax-cut deferral would receive significant public support.”

Safe Ireland is also calling for an increase of €230k towards its annual core funding to enable it to scale it’s work in response to the exponential growth in demand for support measures over the past 18 months.

“This is a very important budget cycle for domestic violence” continued McDermott “as it is the first post-Covid budget for this Government since Ireland’s ratification of the Istanbul convention, and it also marks the first of three budgets which will be required to fund Ireland’s third National Domestic Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (DSGBV) Strategy the design of which is due for completion by the December 2021. There can be no going back to a societal tolerance of violence against women, and against children, and this epidemic must now become this Government’s priority.”

The full Pre-Budget Submission can be found on the Safe Ireland website:

Download as PDF: Policy & Publications – Safe Ireland

Domestic Violence & Child Protection Training for Practitioners

Safe Ireland are collaborating with Trinity College Dublin and Mason Hayes & Curran for a new Domestic Violence and Child Protection Training Course for Practitioners commencing 4th October 2021.

Following the recent amendment to the Irish Constitution (Article 42A) and the introduction of a range of new Child Protection Legislation, such as the Children First Act 2015 and the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, Child Protection Practitioners have identified the need for further training to carry out their roles and responsibilities within the current legal framework.

In response to this, the School of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with Mason Hayes & Curran and Safe Ireland are pleased to announce a new ONLINE Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course in Legal Training for Child Protection and Welfare Practitioners. This four week online course, commencing on 4th October at a cost of €400 per person, is relevant to Allied Health Professionals within the scope of Child Protection and Welfare including Social Workers, Social Care Workers, Family Support Workers, Public Health Nurses and Gardaí. Participants of the course will be able to access relevant and up to date online learning materials at their convenience over a four week period from 4th October. The online course includes videos, interactive presentations, case examples, case law, and discussion.  Deadline for applications here before 24th September 2021.

Safe Ireland & Airbnb launch Domestic Violence ‘Survivor Fund’

Safe Ireland and Airbnb have today announced the launch of the ‘Safe Ireland Survivor Fund’ for domestic violence survivors, refuges, and support centres in Ireland.

The Fund is backed by a €350,000 donation from Airbnb and will provide grants to women and children who are escaping abuse. Funding will be distributed through Safe Ireland’s 39 affiliated services across the country and will also support sustainable and complex-case development work.

The Fund which is made up of donations from Airbnb, the Community Foundation of Ireland, the RTE Toy Show Appeal and The Ireland Funds (Private Donor) will include grants for immediate use, including basic groceries, utility bills, securing a deposit for safe accommodation, car insurance or repairs, or phone credit so that a victim’s contact with friends and family is maintained. Services can also apply for funding for equipment or training, including play pods for children, for example, or innovative and specialist support for high-risk and vulnerable women.

Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland said:

“Financial control is a core mechanism of coercive control in an abusive relationship. Barriers like access to phone credit, transport or the inability to pay bills, can and do keep women trapped. The Safe Ireland Survivor Fund directly addresses these micro-controls, builds hope and the capacity to act.

“Airbnb has shown generous and creative corporate leadership in working with us from the beginning of COVID-19 to support survivors and services, and we welcome it. However, this Fund cannot address domestic, sexual and gender-based violence as a large-scale social problem. Nor can it replace systematic and thorough-going state response to the abuse of women and children. We thank Airbnb for their frontline response, while Safe Ireland continues to work for the eradication of domestic violence in society as a whole.”

Airbnb has provided Safe Ireland with substantial funding to launch and support the Fund, further deepening their ongoing collaboration since 2020. In June 2020 Airbnb partnered with Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid to provide free hotel emergency accommodation for domestic violence survivors across Ireland as refuges and services struggled with the pressure of simultaneous increased demand with reduced capacity triggered by health and safety requirements. This emergency accommodation support was extended in June 2021. To date, the initiative has provided over 3,000 bed nights to survivors who may not otherwise have been accommodated.

Jean Hoey, Co-Site Lead for Airbnb in Ireland, said:

“We have been privileged to support the vital work of Safe Ireland and their tireless dedication to helping those faced with domestic violence. For women leaving an abusive home situation, bills and costs can cause a great deal of worry. Through the Survivor Fund, we want to help relieve that pressure and provide financial peace of mind.”

Recent research by Safe Ireland found that the cost of domestic violence to a woman is approximately €113,500, over the course of a 20-year period from abuse to safety. This can include loss of income, unemployment, health costs, legal fees, and the cost of relocation.

Donations to the work of Safe Ireland can be made here.

Nearly €113,500 over 20 years – the high cost of domestic violence to a woman

A new Safe Ireland and NUI Galway research report, published today, finds that the aggregate cost of domestic violence to a woman, over her journey from abuse to safety, is approximately €113,475 over a time span of 20 years or more. The new report is the first to assess the indicative economic and social costs of domestic violence in Ireland.

Based on the individual estimate, the report assesses that the national cost of domestic violence to survivors is an estimated €56 billion over a 20.5 year journey – a total cost that is based on the most comprehensive study of the prevalence of violence against women in Ireland (Fundamental Rights Agency – FRA – 2014). While the cumulative cost of domestic violence is a more useful measure of the economic impact of DV over a “lifetime”, according to the researchers, it does indicate that domestic violence is costing women survivors at least €2.7 billion each year.

Assessing the Social and Economic Cost of Domestic Violence was undertaken for Safe Ireland by researchers, Dr Nata Duvvury and Dr Caroline Forde, of NUI Galway’s Centre for Global Women’s Studies. It is based on in-depth interviews with 50 women, using a purposive sampling strategy to ensure diversity and representation. The costs were tracked over three distinct phases; the abusive relationship phase lasting on average 15 years, the sanctuary and interim phase lasting on average 1.5 years and the relocation and recovery phase, spanning on average four years. Echoing the EU FRA prevalence study, emotional abuse was the most common form of coercive control.

Assessing the Social and Economic Cost of DV

Download PDF: https://www.safeireland.ie/wp-content/uploads/Assessing-the-Social-and-Economic-Costs-of-DV-July2021.pdf

Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that as well as highlighting the enormous economic and social cost of domestic violence to women, children and the state, the report highlights the complex relationship between poverty, social exclusion and domestic violence.

“The relationship between poverty and domestic violence/coercive control is complex and circular, acting as both a cause and effect of poverty,” she said.

“When women are in, leave, or are recovering from an abusive relationship, they will face an increasing and real threat of poverty, especially where financial control has been a core element of their abuse. However, it is also the case that many women do not leave abusive relationships because of the threat of poverty and stigma. This hidden domestic violence/coercive control poverty trap needs close scrutiny and further research.”

Lost income/productivity emerged as the single major cost for women, equivalent to an average of €205,511 for those women who experienced income loss over the three phases (not all women experienced or reported income loss or indeed all costs).

Health costs were the most widely reported. In addition, women faced significant service bills such as legal costs, debt, damage or loss of property often caused by the perpetrator, as well as critical challenges with regard to housing and relocation in particular. A number of women became homeless as a result of domestic violence through their journey. The report also highlighted the prevalence and cost of ongoing or separation abuse, in particular the impact of ongoing financial abuse in terms of unpaid child maintenance or the use of child maintenance payments to exert control.

Dr Caroline Forde, NUI Galway said that the findings confirm existing international evidence that domestic violence/coercive control is a costly, pervasive social problem that costs survivors, families and the State, directly and indirectly.

“The cost of domestic violence/coercive control both for individuals and families, as well as for the national economy, is substantial. Direct costs include expenses for services to treat and support abused women, their children and to bring perpetrators to justice,” she said. “The indirect costs include lost employment and productivity which greatly undermines women’s capabilities.”

She highlighted that twice as many women in the sample were unemployed at the time of interview than were at the beginning of the abusive relationship. Most had been driven into unemployment because of illness/injury and trauma due to domestic violence, or because the perpetrator prevented them from working, thus stalling their careers.

The interview-based methodology also meant that the researchers could identify the channels of help that most women seek along the way. They found that across the three phases, services in the domestic violence, healthcare, legal, criminal justice and judicial sectors were most commonly accessed by women. The primary entry point for support was through healthcare services.

Safe Ireland said that the findings of this research could make an important contribution to ongoing Government developments in the area of DSGBV, including the first national Audit of DSGBV, the ongoing Tusla Accommodation Review and the development of the third DSGBV Strategy.

The new Irish findings are in line with, and contribute to, the international evidence base for the cost of domestic violence. Research from the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), released last week, has estimated that the cost of gender-based violence across the EU is €366 billion a year. Violence against women makes up 79 % of this cost, amounting to €289 billion.

Safe Ireland – Cancelled 999 Domestic Violence calls expose dangerous practice, out-dated technologies and unreliable data

Safe Ireland, working with 39 frontline domestic violence services, said that while it welcomed reports today that the cancellation of domestic violence 999 calls had fallen by two-thirds following the introduction of tighter controls on how calls were processed in late 2020, flaws of such a serious nature were not reducible to technologies.

Further details on local and individual practice, on information flow and on data implications are necessary.

Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland, said that these events contrast sharply with the positive on-the-ground effects of Operation Faoiseamh which explicitly supported local gardaí to prioritise domestic violence.

“This is clearly not a matter of policy but practice and technical infrastructure. More seriously, it also appears to expose remnant dismissive attitudes in our police service to coercive control and abuse in the home as merely a private matter rather than a crime. All gardaí need depth training on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence”

Furthermore, accurate recording of data directly effects how dv is understood. If calls were cancelled, repeating and patterned calls from survivors, which evidence coercive control, may not be recognised or escalated appropriately.

“We know that what happened with these calls is not Garda policy,” she said. “We have welcomed and actively supported Operation Faoiseamh, which prioritised the response to domestic violence survivors from the start of Covid-19. Our service members across the country have spoken about the importance of proactive Garda response to domestic violence and the developments that the force has made over recent years particularly. These call cancellations directly undermine this work.”

 

“However, we have also consistently reported identifiable and persistent regional pockets of bad practice, particularly amongst rank-and-file gardaí, where there would seem to be a continued lack of professional understanding of the nature, complexity or impact of coercive control and trauma.”

McDermott said that the cancellation of crisis calls are clear evidence of poor practice and show the need for immediate and substantive training on coercive control for all members of the police service, at all levels, but particularly for those in the call centres as the first point of contact for many survivors.

She also said that the cancellation of DV 999 calls further undermines Garda data on the crime of coercive control. Immediate and thorough-going review of these processes is necessary.

#HaveYourSay on the next DSGBV strategy

Department of Justice with Safe Ireland and NWCI launches a public consultation process to help develop a new national strategy.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/TNS

Department of Justice (@DeptJusticeIRL) Tweeted:

🚨 📢 We along with partners  @SAFEIreland & @NWCI have launched a public #consultation process to help develop a new national strategy to combat Domestic, Sexual & Gender-based Violence

#HaveYourSay here below
👉 https://t.co/pM9XLwquSc
@1Hildegarde https://t.co/JnigCCsUej

https://twitter.com/DeptJusticeIRL/status/1399274510604550151?s=20

Airbnb extends partnership to provide free accommodation to domestic violence survivors

Airbnb has extended its partnership with Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid to provide free emergency accommodation for domestic violence survivors across Ireland. The decision comes as Ireland prepares to lift lockdown restrictions and emergency refuge services operate with reduced capacity and an increase in demand.

The initial partnership launched in June 2020 as Ireland prepared to reopen from the first lockdown and has provided 2,000 nights of emergency accommodation to date.

Domestic violence services have continued to see high numbers through 2021 with many survivors presenting with highly complex needs and heightened trauma from months of living with their abusers in extended lockdown.

The need to ensure safe social distancing in specialist domestic violence accommodation services has reduced capacity by 25% and there is concern that demand may increase further over the summer months. Last year July and August were the busiest months as women are often more reticent to leave homes whilst children are in school.

Safe Ireland’s ‘Tracking the Shadow Pandemic’ reports carried out through 2020 show that on average, 180 women and 275 children looked for emergency accommodation every month between March and December. But in that same time, 2,159 requests for refuge could not be met by services, indicating the importance of having other accommodation choices available.

Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland said,

“Domestic violence is the leading cause of family homelessness. The availability of safe, affordable and stable housing is fundamental not only to a woman’s ability to escape an abusive partner, but also to remain safe and independent. This partnership with Airbnb has provided a crisis-time option for some women to escape violence and we are delighted that it is continuing. The accommodation provided is designed to be temporary but it provides critical respite for services and women to make longer term plans.”

 Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid said,

“Women’s Aid is delighted to know that this vital support to women and children is being extended by Airbnb. The need and demand for creative responses to the needs of those subjected to domestic abuse is only increasing. Our 24hr National Freephone Helpline, which responded to 38% more calls between March and December 2020, acts as a direct referral point to a wide range of local and regional services and supports for women subjected to abuse all over Ireland, and we will continue to signpost callers in need of accommodation to all of the domestic violence services participating in this partnership.”

Airbnb will continue to work through its hotel partners to provide temporary accommodation, free of charge, when specialist emergency accommodation is not available. Domestic violence services throughout the country will assess the safety needs of survivors before arranging bookings into the temporary hotel accommodation.

All those accommodated as part of this initiative will continue to be closely supported by domestic violence specialists. Safe Ireland will coordinate the initiative with its frontline services and support from the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline. All accommodation costs are sourced and paid for by Airbnb.

Jean Hoey, Public Policy Lead for Airbnb in Ireland, said,

“We have much to look forward to as lockdown restrictions ease and a return to a sense of normality seems possible again. For those facing domestic abuse however, freedom will always seem out of reach. It’s a privilege for us to be able to support the vital work of Safe Ireland and Women’s Aid to ensure that anyone seeking help can be offered a safe space from where they can hopefully take the first steps towards rebuilding their lives.”

No Going Back

We are setting out our evidence-based vision for a transformative strategy and infrastructure for DSGBV in Ireland.

We have been clear from the very beginning of this pandemic that Covid-19 did not cause domestic and sexual violence. It has exposed it.

Exposure

We have also been clear that this epidemic, and the quite phenomenal outpouring of communal empathy for those living with control and abuse that we have seen, has also fully revealed the inadequate, siloed and poorly resourced way in which we are responding to coercive control generally, and domestic violence specifically.

Over this past year, when we have discussed and named the intense stresses of this crisis period and the inadequate response structure with our frontline member services, the phrase “No Going Back” consistently came up as the expression which embodied what we all want to come out of this crisis.

Opportunity

Covid-19 has proven to be a threat, but also an opportunity, for the DSGBV sector – with all the burdens that implies.

Our new discussion paper sets out our vision for a transformative infrastructure and strategy to respond to the needs of survivors – primarily women and children. We hope that it will support the work that is currently underway to review extant DSGBV infrastructures. We also hope that it can feed into the development of the new third national strategy for DSGBV.

Four key recommendations

Safe Ireland has four key recommendations that will transform the way we respond to DSGBV in this country. We need:

  • A dedicated Minister and Ministry;
  • Integrated and survivor focused policy and services;
  • Sustainable and thriving specialist local services;
  • A world-leading intervention and prevention strategy.

Hardwired to Journeys

What makes this discussion paper unique and completely hardwired to the complex and holistic needs of women and children is that it pivots around the journeys that they take as they move from entrapment to safety and freedom. The paper also begins to set out some of our thinking on the need for more nuanced conceptualisations and language about DSGBV.

We undertook a series of scoping exercises, based on our years of experience and collaboration with our 39 service members, to document the journey of women and children.

Out of this we have developed two separate journey maps, one of which documents the Journey of a Woman and the second the Journey of a Child.

Journey of a woman from DSGBV to independent living

Journey of a woman from DSGBV to independent living

Journey of a child from DSGBV to independent living

Journey of a child from DSGBV to independent living

Time to think

We have developed a build-up map, or animation, of the Journey of a Woman so that you can take the time to contemplate the complicated, non-linear, stop and start, meandering and often prolonged journeys that women can take particularly.

We hope these maps will throw light on the necessity for an always present, multi-disciplinary response to support women and children on their journeys out of abuse.

What We’re Doing Isn’t Working

Unfortunately, however, we are responding to these non-linear, complicated and meandering journeys with a siloed approach – without leadership, without vital all of government connection, as you can see here.

Current National Framework

There is a Better Way

The lives of survivors can be transformed by a systemic change to policy, practice and commissioning that promotes early intervention and reduces the prevalence, impact and tolerance of DSGBV at all levels. We have set out what an integrated structure of response might look like, cascading from leadership at political level, through national and regional authorities to local service level.

Proposed National Framework

And this in turn is connected to the development of a fit for purpose, integrated regional service delivery plan.

Regional Integrated Structure and Delivery

A new model must be built which meets the journey and needs of survivors, which meets the demands of best- practice, transparency and genuine social change.

What we have set out here in our new discussion paper illustrates clearly that there can be no going back.

View and Download: No Going Back Discussion Paper

No Going Back Discussion Paper – March 2021

Download PDF of ‘No Going Back Discussion Paper’

 

Safe Ireland recognises mothers living with coercion – past and present – with creative campaign this Mothers’ Day