Doomed anti-abuse agency ‘was effective

A DEPARTMENT of Justice report recommended an intervention approach to tackle domestic violence be rolled out nationally, but six months later the pilot project is closing down.

Last year an independent review of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency (NDVIA) said despite fragmented funding it had been effective in tackling the complicated nature of domestic violence.

The Farrell Grant and Sparks report said the feedback it had got from the victims of domestic violence and who engaged with the NDVIA had been very positive.

“The overall impression from the agencies is that the staff of the NDVIA are knowledgeable on the issues of domestic violence and are contributing to agency understanding of the unique nature of domestic violence and how systems can change more effectively.

“There is also general recognition that the types of system change that have been attempted in the pilot area during the pilot period take time.”

The NDVIA has already indicated it will close down on January 31 because the department will not make any funding commitment.

This has been criticised by the director of the National Women’s Council, Ms Joanna McMinn.

“The gardaí, the courts and the probation and welfare services have all endorsed the NDVIA’s work to make the criminal justice and other response systems work together better.

“If they all believe that the interagency approach piloted by the NDVIA will greatly improve women’s safety, why is the Department of Justice refusing to meet with the agency to discuss its future?

“Is this government serious about eliminating violence against women? If it is, then we call on the Minister of Justice to intervene and ensure that this important agency can continue and develop its work of making women’s lives safer.”

The department said it has never made any promises to the NDVIA to keep the pilot going beyond the three year pilot phase.

A statement from the department said while its FGS review was reasonably positive it highlighted a number of areas where the NDVIA did not meet all of its targets.

The FGS review said this was largely because the original set of target was too ambitious and many of the agencies it engaged with had been slow to change their ways.

In Dun Laoghaire and Bray, where the pilot project had operated, solicitors have said the NDVIA did not have a major impact on the ground. In many cases this has been because of the reluctance of some agencies, including the judiciary, to refer cases to the NDVIA.

However, in the cases which were referred on all proceeded to court hearings without charges being dropped.

This is despite the fact that most of the victims only came into contact with the NDVIA because they had indicated they would be withdrawing the cases against the perpetrator.

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