Legislation to establish new DSGBV agency Cuan passed by Oireachtas

Legislation to establish new DSGBV agency Cuan passed by Oireachtas

Helen McEntee

Justice minister Helen McEntee and James Browne, minister of state with responsibility for law reform have welcomed the passing through the Oireachtas of legislation which will establish a statutory agency under the remit of the Department of Justice dedicated to tackling and reducing domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) and supporting victims and survivors.

The establishment of the DSGBV Agency, which is expected to be operational by January 2024, will deliver on commitments under Zero Tolerance, the Third National Strategy on DSGBV.

The Bill was passed by the Seanad having been approved by Government for publication in September and passing through the Dáil earlier in November. The next step is for the Bill to be signed into law by the president.

Ms McEntee said: “I want to thank the members of both Houses for the support they have shown for this important Bill - it has been hugely encouraging to see the levels of support and goodwill for this passing of this legislation and for its prompt enactment.

“I also want to thank all those who work in the domestic, sexual and gender based violence sector for working with me and Government on our Zero Tolerance plan and the establishment of the new agency.

“We are now firmly on track to have this agency established by January. The competition for the board of the agency has opened today.

“The process of choosing a CEO is at an advanced stage. I’m pleased to now announce that the agency will be called Cuan: the Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence Agency.

“Cuan means harbour or haven. I have seen the shelter our refuges provide for women. Women who have left their homes because they have been beaten and abused. I have seen the care these women are given in these safe harbours. We need more of them. And we need to capture the values they represent.

“In a structure that will outlast my term as Minister and which will help protect victims and change attitudes. Cuan will be that permanent change; that safe harbour to help us achieve Zero Tolerance of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence.”

The new agency will work collaboratively with the NGO and DSGBV services sector to ensure that the best possible services are in place to meet the needs of victims and survivors.

It will be tasked with

  • Coordinating and reporting on the delivery of Government strategies relating to DSGBV (including the current National Strategy)
  • Supporting and overseeing the delivery of safe and accessible refuge accommodation, and ensuring the delivery of excellent services to victims of DSGBV (including helpline and other supports)
  • Developing robust standards for funded DSGBV services in collaboration with the sector, and monitoring adherence to these standards by funded service providers
  • Leading on awareness-raising campaigns designed to reduce the incidence of DSGBV in Irish society as well as ensuring that all victims know the full range of supports available and how to access them
  • Liaising with the Minister for Justice and her Department to ensure that the work of the Agency aligns with overall Government DSGBV policy
  • Leading on research to inform DSGBV policy development, working with others, such as the CSO, who have research and data projects underway

A competition to appoint a CEO for the agency is underway, while a process to recruit members to the board of the new Agency went live on Stateboards.ie today (22/11/23) and will be open for three weeks.

The statutory name of the Agency will be An Ghníomhaireacht um Fhoréigean Baile, Gnéasach agus Inscnebhunaithe, which translates as The Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Agency.

Mr Browne said: “The Programme for Government recognises the scale of the problem of DSGBV in Ireland, not unlike other countries around the world. Truly tackling and reducing the prevalence of DSGBV requires a co-ordinated whole of Government response with a dedicated central resource to continuously drive this work. This Bill will create a new State body which will do exactly that, with a permanent statutory mandate and ring-fenced resources to deliver on that mandate.”

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