A domestic abuse agency has claimed that the Government is failing to protect women and children experiencing domestic violence.
Safe Ireland said that it is growing “increasingly concerned” that the Government is not responding to the urgent and practical needs of women and children.
Safe Ireland is the national social change agency working with 38 member domestic violence services across the country.
The agency said it has submitted a proposal for emergency funding of 1.6 million euro to the Government to ensure that services can respond adequately to the needs of women and children at this unique time.
The women and children in these refuges should be moved into safe, self-contained accommodation as part of the emergency national responseSafe Ireland
A spokeswoman for Safe Ireland said that there has been “no definite response” to its proposal.
Safe Ireland said that the emergency funding would be used to help accommodate women safely within the community, give them personal protection equipment, necessary technology and to provide for adequate professional staff throughout the crisis.
“We have an untenable situation at the moment, where women and children are living in communal refuges, with shared kitchens and bathrooms,” a spokeswoman said.
“These are potential sites for an outbreak of Covid-19. The women and children in these refuges should be moved into safe, self-contained accommodation as part of the emergency national response.
“Overall the capacity of our emergency accommodation services is down about 20% because we have to leave some units as isolation spaces.
“We need to be thinking creatively and at a national level about how we can accommodate all women and children safely when they look for support, particularly as the weeks of containment and isolation progress.”
Nearly four weeks into the Covid-19 crisis, we are growing increasingly concerned that key Govt. agencies are failing to respond adequately to the urgent needs of women & children experiencing domestic abuse & coercive control.— SAFE Ireland (@SAFEIreland) April 6, 2020
Full press release here: https://t.co/qN1VPuf3Pd
Safe Ireland said that women and children could use Airbnb accommodation or other housing stock in the community.
Resources are urgently needed from the Government to make this happen, the agency added.
Last Friday, Safe Ireland submitted a proposal to the Department of Social Protection that would see women and children in need of immediate relocation have access to an emergency rent supplement throughout the Covid-19 emergency.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children.
Housing instability is four times more likely for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.
In a statement, the Department of Affairs and Social Protection said it is aware of the proposal from Safe Ireland.
“We will examine this in consultation with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government,” a spokeswoman said.
“Responsibility for the development and provision of services to support victims of domestic violence rests with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the delivery of such services is managed through the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.
“The Department of Housing and Local Government is the competent authority to deal with the accommodation needs of those facing homelessness.
“A local authority can provide short-term emergency housing to people who are unable to return to their homes because of domestic violence on a humanitarian basis without having to assess their eligibility for social housing support or include them on the authority’s waiting list for housing supports.”