Tuesday, December 28, 2010

‘One-stop shop’ planned for sexual, domestic abuse victims

THE Government is planning to pilot a "one-stop shop" for victims of domestic and sexual violence in 2011.

The state’s sexual and domestic violence agency, Cosc, said such a premises — most likely to be located in an anonymous office building — would bring all the relevant state and voluntary services under one roof.

Cosc executive director Éimear Fisher said similar facilities abroad, including one in New York, had been "extremely successful".

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Ms Fisher said the development was part of the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010-2014.

She said one facility in Brooklyn, New York, was a template for other countries.

"The victim goes in, it’s an anonymous building, like an office block, her history is taken quickly. If it’s an emergency situation, there’s a wardrobe there with clothes, if she needs them. There’s a creche there to mind her kids.

"The registrar there who takes her details assesses her needs: is it housing, health, hospital? All relevant NGOs have a presence on site."

She said across the corridor are the police and prosecuting authorities. She said this provides the victim with a choice: "She doesn’t have to go to the police, but constantly walking past on her way to help, she becomes more familiar, and may after a while say, ‘I think I’ll report’. It has been found to be extremely successful."

Ms Fisher said Cosc would soon draw up proposals to address the high rate of attrition in Ireland, where most reported cases of abuse drop out either at reporting stage, investigation stage or court prosecution stage.

Other developments in 2011 include:

* New second-level education programmes to include awareness on sexual and domestic violence.

* Pilot programmes in four colleges (UCC, UCD, GMIT Galway and Maynooth) to increase understanding and practical information on the area.

* HSE assessment forms with domestic violence questions for routine use for all staff in hospitals and health centres.