Milestone for bill creating new domestic, sexual and gender-based violence agency
Ministers have approved the general scheme of legislation creating a new statutory agency dedicated to tackling and reducing domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV).
A key responsibility of the new agency will be overseeing and supporting the provision of refuge accommodation for victims, supporting a government commitment to double the number of refuge places and increase the number of safe homes and other accommodation by 2026.
The establishment of the agency will also ensure that there is permanent structure to help deliver further refuge accommodation over the long term, the government said.
To assist with this, the new agency will prepare and publish standards for service provision and governance in respect of the DSGBV services and accommodation, and monitor adherence to those standards.
The DSGBV Agency Bill has been guided by the government’s third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
Justice minister Simon Harris said: “This new agency will be tasked with ensuring the delivery of services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, and with driving and coordinating the implementation of the third national strategy across government.
“It will bring the dedicated and expert focus that is needed to tackle this serious and complex societal issue.
“The agency will be up and running by next January. Publishing the general scheme is a significant milestone on that path, and I wish to thank colleagues and the sector for their support for this important work.
“This sends a clear message from government that domestic and gender-based violence will never be tolerated. I want to thank my colleague Minister McEntee for leading on this as part of the Zero Tolerance strategy.”
James Browne, minister of state for law reform, added: “Securing government approval to start drafting this legislation demonstrates our determination to tackle the scourge of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and to meet the ambitious commitments and timeframes as set out in the strategy.
“I firmly believe this dedicated agency will make a positive difference to the many lives blighted by violence and abuse, and that it will be instrumental in driving forward the whole-of-government ‘zero tolerance’ approach that informs the third national strategy.”
The general scheme of the bill will now be referred to the Oireachtas justice committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. Once the committee’s report is received, work on finalising the bill “will be prioritised so that it can be published and begin its progression through the Houses with a view to enactment before the end of the year”.