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Question

714. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Justice the recent analysis carried out regarding supports for victims of abuse; when a roadmap to support victims will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52067/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy is aware, Supporting a Victim's Journey is a detailed roadmap, which, when implemented, will ensure that we have a more victim-centred system that supports and empowers victims. It will give victims the confidence to engage with all services knowing that they will be supported, informed and treated with respect and dignity at every point and by every person they come into contact with.
I am deeply committed to implementing in full all of the recommendations set out in Supporting a Victim's Journey and I am chairing an Implementation Oversight Group comprising all relevant Departments and Agencies responsible for driving the implementation of the agreed actions. I can assure the Deputy that all Departments and agencies on the implementation group are committed to delivering the recommendations as set out in this ambitious plan.
Regarding the specific information sought by the Deputy, my Department recently carried out work to identify the nature, spread and level of services that may be encompassed by Supporting a Victim’s Journey , and to identify where gaps in support exist and how to improve those areas. As a result of that work, specific geographical areas and categories of victims that are not adequately covered by NGO supports have been identified. Additional funding to allow services, including court accompaniment, to be made available throughout the State has been provided to the relevant NGOs that will meet the gaps identified by extending, with this additional funding, their services. This piece of work is now complete, but will be kept under review as any additional funding requests are made that identify additional needs.
The Department also continues to work closely with NGOs in the sector to reform and develop physical and emotional supports and services.
To promote more sustainable service delivery and planning, my Department is also offering multi-annual funding commitments to key NGOs we work with and where funding covers staff salaries. These funding grants cover accompaniment to court, to Garda interviews and to sexual assault treatment units and emotional support.
We are also working with our NGO partners and others to map the journey faced by individual victims to identify issues and needs not met. Considerable work on this has been completed to date which has provided valuable information pointing primarily to training needs and supervision issues for frontline services and these will be addressed in the training work being implemented under the O’Malley reforms.
In this context, the Department has engaged external experts to establish what training is already being provided, and in what areas. The results of this will show where there are gaps in training and the Department will be working with trusted partners to fill those - this will ensure that all training needs are met, and that training provided is to the highest possible standards.
Additionally, a number of key actions have been delivered to date as part of implementing Supporting a Victim’s Journey, including:
- Legislating for the introduction of preliminary trial hearings;
- The nationwide rollout of Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSU);
- The first cohort of staff at new sexual offences unit in the Director of Public Prosecutions office formally took up their roles in April;
- An improved Victims Charter website which provides a comprehensive repository of information for victims has been created;
- The University of Limerick has been commissioned by my Department to develop the framework for the operation and training of intermediaries and they will soon be engaging with stakeholders to develop this.