Written answers

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Department of An Taoiseach

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Staff

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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94. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the type of training members of her Department or those working with asylum applicants have received in cultural awareness when dealing with foreign nationals; the proportion of her departmental staff and outside staff in front-line roles dealing with asylum seekers and refugees who have received training in dealing with survivors of rape, torture or those suffering from PTSD; if her attention has been drawn to any kind of cultural awareness training that is provided to staff members, including staff not directly employed by her Department in hostels and accommodation used for those in direct provision. [7736/17]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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Due to the nature of their work, a number of divisions within the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department receive regular cultural awareness training, which encompasses training on how to sensitively deal with persons in the protection process who may have suffered various types of degrading treatment.

Extensive training is provided to staff in the International Protection Office (IPO) and International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) who have responsibility for investigating applications for international protection and deciding on protection appeals respectively. Such training is based on national experiences as well as best practice approaches developed internationally by agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). The training includes interviewing skills techniques which encompass awareness of the needs of vulnerable groups such as children and victims of torture and of other types of degrading treatment. Training on cultural awareness as well as the effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychological issues is also provided. Caseworkers are also trained to deal sensitively with applicants from different cultural backgrounds in the assessment of their applications including when conducting interviews. It is also the policy to ensure that each individual international protection applicant is treated with courtesy and professionalism at all times.

Training is provided by in-house trainers and, from time to time, by outside experts such as the UNHCR, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and the Centre for the Care of Survivors of Torture (SPIRASI).

Members of the Office for the Promotion and Integration Office (OPMI), Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP), and the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) have received anti-racism and diversity training. In addition, senior members of staff within the relocation side of the IRPP have received child protection training from Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) and training in dealing with unaccompanied minors and victims of human trafficking through the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). It is also worth noting that in advance of any refugees being resettled or relocated, staff of the IRPP carry out research into the ethnic and cultural aspects of the new communities before they arrive and also consult with the new refugees on aspects of their culture which might differ from our norms in order to prepare the receiving community for their arrival.

The HSE has also developed a suite of training programmes for persons working with refugees which includes modules dealing with persons experiencing trauma and sexual violence. This training also includes a specific module on 'minding your own health' for staff working in reception centres and for those working with refugees in the receiving communities.

To ensure that applicants in Direct Provision centres are treated with sensitivity to their cultural and psychological needs, RIA, along with COSC (the National Organisation for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence) engaged in a working group with a number of non-governmental organisations including Akidwa and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to develop a RIA policy around incidences of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and harassment within Direct Provision Centres. Prior to the implementation of this policy in 2015, a number of two-day training programmes were delivered to centre staff by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in conjunction with Women's Aid. The agreed policy is now operational in all centres and is available on the RIA website.

The training needs of all staff working with vulnerable migrants are kept under continual review in order to ensure that the Department and its agencies working in the area are fully equipped to deal with the various challenges that emerge when dealing with diverse cultural mores.


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