Increased Refuge Capacity needed for Domestic Violence
The dramatic increase in domestic violence calls to Women Aid highlights the need for increased capacity in refuges said Labour Senator Annie Hoey, calling for a dedicated capital investment programme to address the chronic shortfall, and a whole of government approach to address the issues highlighted in the report.
Senator Hoey said:
“The figures released by Women’s Aid shows the terrible impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on those experiencing domestic violence, with a 43% increase in calls to their helpline, and a huge increase in visits to their website at the peak of the pandemic.
“We need to take significant action to support women who bear the brunt of violence in their homes. There must be a whole of Government approach to co-ordinate activity across various Departments. A dedicated Minister of State would ensure such a policy agenda is delivered on.
“What we urgently need is an increase in the number, and capacity of refuges for victims of domestic violence, and in particular for women and children. There must be dedicated capital funding through the Department of Housing to every local authority in Ireland. We have previously called for data to be collected on the number of women and families made homeless due to domestic violence.
“There are many council areas with no dedicated refuge and that must be addressed. As highlighted by Women’s Aid today, Ireland only has one third of the recommended capacity in our refuges. The Department of Housing should make a capital grant available to every council in the country specifically for the provision of domestic violence accommodation.
“The Department of Justice must also ensure that enough resources are available through the Garda National Protective Service Bureau, alongside capacity in refuges and shelters so that those affected can escape from physical and sexual abuse in their homes.
“The problems highlighted with the family courts must also be addressed to support and help women and children.”