551. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the steps she is taking to address financial coercion and financial exclusion faced by victims and survivors of domestic abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37421/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): In recognition of the financial pressures faced by victims of domestic abuse, the Department of Social Protection agreed a protocol with Tusla in August 2020, on a pilot basis, to make rent supplement more easily accessible to victims of domestic violence.
This seeks to ensure that victims of domestic violence are not prevented from leaving their home because of financial or accommodation difficulties. The arrangements in this protocol are in addition to the range of other supports already in place for victims of domestic violence.
I understand there are currently 62 victims of domestic violence being supported with rent supplement under these arrangements.
In addition, I can assure the Deputy that my Department is advancing a number of actions in order to deliver on the goal in Justice Plan 2021 to strengthen support for victims and combat domestic sexual and gender based violence. These actions include the implementation of Supporting a Victim's Journey.
As part of implementing Supporting a Victim’s Journey, my Department has reviewed our grant schemes for organisations working with victims of crime. We have also undertaken an exercise to identify geographical areas where a full range of services are still not available. My Department will be working with the NGO sector to identify suitable providers to fill the gaps identified.
We have also been working with key NGOs represented on the DSGVB Strategy Monitoring Committee to map the journey that a typical victim or victims faces. This has already provided some really valuable information which points primarily to training needs and supervision issues for frontline services and we will now look at agreeing actions to be taken to meet those needs.
Another important part of the work we are doing to improve how we support victims of DSGBV is the audit of how responsibility for how DSGBV services is segmented across Departments and agencies. The report of the audit has now been finalised and was brought to Government today. Going forward, the audit will be an important piece of work which will help ensure we have the right structures in place to respond to all of the issues arising as a result of DSGBV.
In addition, Tusla is currently undertaking a review of accommodation needs and the outcome of this, together with the recommendations of the audit and the ongoing work of implementing Supporting a Victim's Journey, will feed into the development of the next National Strategy on DSGBV.
The development of the new strategy is happening in close consultation with the sector and my Department has partnered with key stakeholders in Safe Ireland and the National Women’s Council to provide expert support and guidance in progressing this new strategy.
It is my intention that a draft of this new strategy will be ready for a further round of public consultation in September.