Written answers

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Budget 2023

Photo of Fergus O'DowdFergus O'Dowd (Louth, Fine Gael)
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101. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills to confirm receipt of a submission (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46067/22]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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With the launch of Zero Tolerance the Third National Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence Strategy, I have been very clear that the tertiary education and training sector must lead the way in changing cultures, behaviours and practices across society to ensure that bullying and sexual harassment are not tolerated. There is a particular responsibility on those charged with educating the next generation in ensuring that their learners are equipped to lead the change more widely across society.

I fully support the core principle underpinning the strategy that we must take a zero tolerance approach. Everyone is entitled to a safe environment to study and work free from violence and harassment, and that informs the policy approaches and interventions that have been adopted across the sector.

Tackling sexual violence and harassment has been and will continue to be a particular policy priority for me and my Department. In fact, one of the very first actions I took after my appointment as Minister in 2020 was to write to all publicly funded higher education institutions outlining my commitment to tackling sexual violence and harassment in higher education and requesting that institutions take a number of actions in this area, including the development of institutional action plans on tackling sexual violence and harassment. All publicly-funded institutions now have such action plans in place.

The Framework for Consent in Higher Education, which was launched in 2019, has had funding of over €400,000 allocated to a number of initiatives since its launch.

In addition, the Higher Education Authority has allocated funding of over €500,000 towards consent workshops, the development of the anonymous report and support tool, and the UCC Bystander intervention programme.

I am committed to ensuring that these initiatives and any further actions required, successfully deliver on the objective of securing zero tolerance of sexual harassment and gender based violence across the entire tertiary education sector.

With regard to the Deputy’s specific query, I wish to confirm that the submission to which he refers has been received by my Department. I will continue to work closely with my colleague Minister McEntee and other ministers; to ensure a coordinated approach that will deliver on the intent of the new strategy to create a culture of zero tolerance to any form of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

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