Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) welcoming the HIQA report on Tusla’s handling of retrospective reporting supported Minister Zappone’s plan for immediate structures to action the recommendations and calls for child-centred and survivor-centred action.
Clíona Saidléar, RCNI Executive Director said, ‘what survivors of past sexual violence often want is to know that no child will be harmed by the person who committed these crimes against themselves. It is reassuring and empowering to know that there is an agency and a set of professionals who are ensuring that what you, the survivor, knows is making a difference. This child protection is the intention of retrospective reporting and as survivors have been telling us, HIQA now confirms, it is not consistency happening.
For those survivors who have given their story to Tusla, it is heart-breaking. The catastrophic lack of social workers in Tusla, the absence of specialisation for social workers in sexual violence and the poor fit between a social worker’s responsibility and the skills required to handle retrospective reporting all adds up to deliver failure to survivors of sexual violence and to children.
It is also clear that the legislative basis to support Tusla’s work in child protection under the Child Care Act is flawed. What is described in the HIQA report is as much an inevitable outcome of poor laws as it is of lack of resources and inappropriate practice. RCNI are calling on government:
- to prioritise the reform of the Child Care Act 1991 which is currently under review,
- to set up a multiagency guidance committee to develop shared practice guidance across relevant professionals and agencies such as exists for SATUs,
- to redouble efforts to develop co-location of child protection responses and to examine the development of stand-alone retrospective reporting child protection co-location responses,
- To require adequate sexual violence training for all general social workers and require specialisation for those working in this area,
- To ensure appropriate oversight and clinical governance of any outsourcing of child protection assessments,
- To examine the location of adult sexual violence responses within child protection services.