Tuesday, 22 March 2016
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Domestic Violence Refuges
271. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he is aware of the decision by the domestic violence support service Lifeline in Inishowen to terminate its operations due to a lack of financial assistance from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency; if he will provide appropriate funding support to enable the service to continue to operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5077/16]
Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence. A network of 60 organisations provides services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence in Ireland, including 20 services providing emergency refuge accommodation to women and children and 24 community-based domestic violence services.
Currently, Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service, which is funded by Tusla, provides services to women and families throughout Donegal, including Inishowen. The service involves the provision of a 24-hour freephone helpline, safe accommodation and outreach services across all areas of Donegal for women and children who are at risk or have suffered abuse within the family. Outreach supports (e.g one to one support; advocacy in accessing other services; safety planning etc.) are provided at a range of health service, community venues and other locations across Inishowen that are accessible and safe for individual women. Recently, there has been a move towards the provision of more mobile arrangements for meeting with service users rather than the "clinic" approach used previously, which enables greater flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of women. This is a development which Tusla encourages to make the best use of resources.
Tusla does not provide core funding to Lifeline Inishowen. While it recognises the work of Lifeline Inishowen, Tusla considers that there would be an inevitable duplication of service provision in the Inishowen area and a risk of fragmentation of services if several organisations were to provide similar services within the same geographical area. In the circumstances Tusla is not in a position to provide separate funding to Lifeline Inishowen for a similar service as that which is already funded.
I understand that Tusla has recently written to Lifeline outlining service arrangements for domestic violence services in Donegal and the specific service arrangements in place to provide a Donegal-wide service to women and families who experience domestic abuse.
Tusla has also been in contact with Donegal Women’s Domestic Violence Service about the proposed cessation of the Lifeline Inishowen service, and I understand that Tusla has been assured by Donegal Women's Domestic Violence Service that it is in a position to respond to service needs in Inishowen.
Tusla will continue to consider the needs of those who experience domestic violence in Co. Donegal as part of its planning processes, in order to ensure that appropriate responses are in place and that resources are used to achieve the best outcomes for individuals, children and families.