'Major gap' in domestic violence support


THERE IS “a major gap” in the provision of emergency refuge accommodation for victims of domestic violence in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (DLR) area of Dublin, a new study has shown.

The study, undertaken with funding from the Homeless Agency, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, and Sonas Housing Association, identified the need for 10 family units for women and children who are out of their homes because of domestic violence in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

It said it was important, given the socioeconomic profile of the area, that a comprehensive domestic violence outreach service be provided that could be accessed by women in the higher socio-economic groups.

There is no crisis refuge for women in the area; nor is there a full-time domestic violence support service, though there are some part-time services. The nearest women’s refuge is in Bray.

The report said the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area had considerable concentrations of disadvantage and deprivation as well as contrasting areas of wealth and affluence.

There were almost 190,000 people living in the area.

Authors Monica O’Connor and Jane Pillinger of Sonas found 83 applications for protection, safety, barring and interim barring orders were made by women from the area in 2009. And about 100 women who accessed the outreach service in Bray Refuge were from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

The authors interviewed groups working in the area of domestic violence including the Health Service Executive, community-based women’s services, the Garda and the local authority.

They found domestic violence was “a big problem in the area”, with a high number of women disclosing abuse.

“There are inadequate domestic violence services in DLR and a lack of a comprehensive full-time service,” they said.

“Existing part-time services are unable to meet current demand and unable to target certain groups of women in the county.”

Applying the UK and Council of Europe standard on refuge provision, they found 19 family refuge spaces would be required. But taking into consideration economic conditions and other facilities in the Dublin area, they recommended that eight to 10 self-contained units be developed.

They also recommended that the area be a pilot for the implementation of a “domestic violence pathway” based on prevention, emergency accommodation, supported accommodation and access to mainstream accommodation. This could then be used in other parts of the country.