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The RCNI provides support and counselling to women, children and men who have suffered sexual abuse.
The RCNI provides support and counselling to women, children and men who have suffered sexual abuse.
Image: Lloyd Morgan via Creative Commons

HSE considers cutting all core funding to Rape Crisis Network

The final decision to slash all core funding to the country’s Rape Crisis Network – which would force the current support services offered to victims of rape and sexual abuse to end – has been postponed until August pending a review.
May 17th 2011, 12:52 PM 1,296 0

THE HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE has postponed plans to cut all core funding to Ireland’s Rape Crisis Network and substitute the existing database on sexual violence with a paper-based system.

The HSE has said it will delay a decision on whether to cut funding of about €270,000 annually to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) until 1 August 2011.

The cut in core funding would have forced the RCNI to close, reports the Irish Times.

Database on sexual violence

The RCNI uses an internationally-praised web-based data recording system that presents the most systematic, accurate view of sexual violence in Ireland. The information it offers is considered an invaluable tool for support service providers working with victims of child sexual abuse and rape, who need a clear understanding of gender-based violence across the country.

The database, which was set up in 1985 and collates information from all of the country’s 15 rape crisis centres, is also essential in shaping effective government policy towards domestic and sexual violence against women, children and men in Ireland.

The HSE proposed that, in place of the current method of information collection on sexual abuse, data would instead be collected though a paper-based system. That idea was criticised by the Director of Research Design and Methodology at UCD, Dr Maureen Lyons, who said such an unsophisticated approach would make it impossible “to discern service usage patterns and therefore impossible to accurately examine current service delivery or plan for the future”.

Poor data collection

Lyons outlined the extremely serious consequences of poor data collection – concluding that the major outcomes would include persistent violence, increased physical and psychological harm to victims and, potentially, death.

The government, too, has recognised the value of an accurate database on issues related to sexual violence. Last year, the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010 -2014 stated that: “The first and most fundamental action required (in response to sexual violence) is the development of a systematic approach to data capture and collation”. The report added that “the lack of consistent information about the number of people affected by domestic and sexual violence limits our ability to respond to the problem”.

The HSE had originally planned to cut all core funding at the end of June, however it has been instructed by Minister for Health James Reilly to postpone the decision until August, pending a review.

The RCNI has appealed for those concerned at the prospect of its funding being cut to contact the Minister for Health, their local representatives, and also to ‘like’ the RCNI Facebook page.

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Jennifer Wade

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