A £2 million centre for rape and sexual abuse victims is expected to be ready in a year's time, it has been revealed.
The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is to be built in the grounds of Antrim Area Hospital.
It will be a specialist centre co-ordinating medical, forensic and aftercare services.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "This investment in a SARC is key to improving the standard of care for victims of sexual violence in Northern Ireland.
"As a victim-focused regional facility, one of the key benefits will be the ability for people to self-refer. The SARC is a significant step which will deliver high standards of care and services by specialist staff trained in caring for victims of sexual abuse."
It will work with organisations from the voluntary sector which support victims of sexual crime.
Justice Minister David Ford said: "This new centre will not only offer co-ordinated medical and aftercare services but also provide a supportive gateway for victims to the criminal justice system.
"Ensuring victims are properly cared for and supported is a crucial element in encouraging reporting of offences and maintaining their engagement with the justice process through to its conclusion."
Police assistant chief constable Will Kerr said sexual violence was a horrific crime.
"I believe the centre's comprehensive victim/survivor-centred package of aftercare and world-class evidence gathering facilities will work hand in hand to give victims/survivors the support they need whilst enhancing the police response and investigation," he said.