- 17 Apr 23
The DSGBV Agency Bill is a feature of the government’s third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has said that the new statutory agency to tackle domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence (DSGBV) is doomed to fail unless it includes a stronger role for survivors.
The DSGBV Agency Bill (which underpins the forthcoming agency) was written following the death of Ashling Murphy, a 23 year-old primary school teacher who was murdered last year while jogging outside of Tullamore, County Offaly.
The agency– which is due to start running next year– will oversee a zero-tolerance policy toward violence and will facilitate the opening of further refuge spaces– safe houses that those experiencing abuse can flee to without fear of being found.
However, the NWCI is concerned that the agency will “repeat the mistakes of the past,” and attribute their fears to the lack of survivors or civil society groups represented within the decision making pool.
“We are concerned that the current bill does not clearly outline the mechanisms to ensure meaningful collaboration of civil society organisations in the performance of the agency’s functions,” said NWCI director Orla O’Connor, who wants to ensure the collaboration between survivors and their protective agency at every level of function.
“We further call for the full composition of the board to reflect the diverse needs and experiences of all women survivors of DSGBV, including Traveller and Roma women, migrant women, and disabled women,” she added. "This would provide for a more effective role for civil society — including victim-survivors of gender-based violence."
The NWCI will appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee tomorrow and request these changes.
It is also critical that this agency can support the delivery of a comprehensive and coherent whole of government approach to tackle Domestic, Sexual and #GenderBasedViolence
— Womenscouncilireland (@NWCI) April 17, 2023
The new Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence agency is set to be established by January 1st, 2024, and the Department of Justice has outlined its seven key goals.
The core functions of the forthcoming agency include:
- "planning, commissioning and funding DSGBV services"
- "overseeing and supporting the provision of refuge accommodation for victims"
- "setting standards for services and refuges, and monitoring adherence"
- "disseminating information on DSGBV, and leading and supporting awareness-raising campaigns"
- "conducting, commissioning and supporting research"
- "supporting, co-ordinating and reporting on the implementation of the Strategy; and assisting the Minister in developing future DSGBV strategies"
Read our interview with NWCI's Orla O'Connor here.