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- Collaborative campaign between Government and frontline organisations to ensure victims are aware of, and can access, services
- New, specially created TV and Radio Ads to air from next week
- Additional funding and prioritised supports for victims provided
New TV and Radio ads which reflect the particular issues raised for some, by the need to stay at home, will be aired from next week. They will carry the message to victims that services are still available despite the COVID-19 emergency.
Launching the campaign, Minister Flanagan said:
“This is a really important campaign. At a time when we have all been told to stay at home, I am very conscious that for victims of domestic abuse, home can be anything but a safe place. That is why I want victims to know that they will continue to receive the highest priority from the civil and criminal justice system throughout this crisis. I want perpetrators to know that too.”
Minister Flanagan continued:
“I am particularly pleased that this initiative is being conducted in partnership by State services and organisations from the community and voluntary sector. We stand together in our support for victims of domestic and sexual violence during this difficult period.”
Referring the additional funding the Department of Justice and Equality has made available to community and voluntary organisations to support their services to victims, Minister Stanton added:
‘‘We are pleased to have been able to provide over €160,000 to community and voluntary groups to support their work at this time, while also funding the making and airing of the ads. We are also pleased to see that domestic and sexual violence services provided by other State agencies have been adapted to ensure they remain available, despite Covid-19.’
Some of those services referred to by Minister Stanton are carried out by agencies of the Department of Justice and Equality, along with Tusla, and include:
- An Garda Síochána has established ‘Operation Faoisimh’, a proactive initiative designed to ensure victims of domestic violence are supported and protected throughout this period;
- The Legal Aid Board is giving priority to domestic violence and childcare cases, with every centre maintaining a phone line or email address for victims seeking supports. A Helpline has also been set up to ensure that persons experiencing domestic violence issues get prompt legal advice and legal representation in court where needed;
- The Courts Service is giving priority to domestic violence and childcare cases, with every District continuing to have a Court open to hear applications for protection, interim barring and emergency barring orders;
- Tusla has put a range of practical supports in place:
- Where a service has a loss of staff due to Covid-19, Tusla will fund additional temporary staff in replacement.
- Some PPE has already been provided to service in the sector, with additional supplies to be provided next week.
- Additional ICT resources are being provided to the sector to enable continuity of services to the public through supporting remote working. More than 50 staff are currently funded to the amount of €60,000 for this purpose.
- Working with providers to identify additional accommodation capacity to respond to individual cases/needs.
Welcoming the initiative, Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said:
‘In Rape Crisis we know that the confined emergency conditions are particularly tough for survivors carrying trauma from sexual violence. Rape Crisis Centres nationwide are here to support you through this crisis. Please reach out to us. We also know that unfortunately many people will be experiencing sexual violence or the escalation of sexual violence within their family at this time. Know that you have a right to safety from sexual violence and we are all still here and ready to support you.’
Seán Cooke from the Male Advice Line said:
‘It is very important we get the message out that support services are available for all victims and survivors of domestic abuse. It is fantastic that all services are working together with the Department to get this critical message out there.’
Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) said,
‘During Covid-19, women in domestic abuse situations and their children are especially vulnerable in the home. Women may feel they have no where to go, and no one to turn to. This is a crucial initiative that lets women know that even at this time, we are still here, and help is available.’
Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, added:
“This is a critical time for our communities to rally in support of all who are vulnerable. This includes victims of domestic violence, now more than ever. It is also important that anyone who thinks that the current stress and strain of Covid 19 offers any excuse to behave in an abusive manner is reminded that abuse is unacceptable. There is no excuse. Women’s Aid remains available 24/7 for those whose partners act in this criminal manner, and we welcome the commitment of the Gardaí to hold perpetrators to account.”
Sharon O’Halloran, Co-CEO of Safe Ireland:
“Safe Ireland welcomes the new information and awareness campaign. Our 38 member domestic violence services throughout the country are open and operating. They are doing everything they can to provide the essential and professional support that women and children need at this time of containment, when home is not a haven for all.”
Finally, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said:
“The COVID-19 crisis has not diminished our service. An Garda Síochána is committed to your protection and to the pursuit of perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. If you are a victim of abuse or you know someone who is, that information is important to us. Please make contact with An Garda Síochána- we are here to listen, to help and to protect. If you require urgent assistance or support, please call 999 or 112.”
The priority given to combatting domestic violence is an important aspect of the National Strategy for Women and Girls and the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.
The national advertising campaign will run for three weeks across TV, Radio and video on demand.
Information on services and supports for victims will be available on a new website www.stillhere.ie
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