RCNI call for action as Rape Crisis Centre serving three counties in Ireland closes for a month due to lack of funding
RCNI call for action from An Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, as Rape Crisis Midwest today announced it is forced to close for a minimum period of a month due to lack of funding. The centre provides a range of services covering three countries including providing ongoing face to face counselling for approximately 80 survivors per week.
Fiona Neary, RCNI director said, ‘for six years rape crisis services have been experiencing cuts to funding with further cuts earmarked. So far these represent up to 30% in cumulative cuts. Simultaneously RCCs have been experiencing extraordinary increases in demand for their services:
Between 2009 and 2012 RCCs have seen a:
- 28% increase in clients accessing their counselling and support services,
- 38% increase in helpline contacts, 1
- 116% increase in numbers of accompaniments. 2
‘This situation is unsustainable. In the current context of decreasing public budgets it is important to put on the record that unless these cuts are reversed and additional investments made in prevention programmes, we are watching nothing less than a spectacular failure in terms of what Ireland should be doing in order to provide any meaningful response to victims of sexual violence. Sexual violence, and all forms of gender- based violence, can be addressed and can be ended. The devastating impact of crimes of sexual violence on individuals, and their families, can be greatly mitigated through expert, victim-sensitive responses. Prevention programmes can reduce incidents of sexual violence. A government which does not set-out to achieve this, through dedicated and adequate funding, is a government which fails children, women and men in Ireland. This failure is not just a failure by government, civil servants and the state, it is a failure by Irish society as a whole.
‘Rape Crisis Centres across Ireland have cut services with many closing outreaches, programmes for vulnerable populations, education programmes with young people, cutting hours and the access of survivors to the services. RCCs are increasingly dependent on volunteerism for core service provision. There is nothing left to cut. Under these continued circumstances closures such as we see in the Midwest today have become unfortunately and disgracefully inevitable.
‘RCNI estimate that funding for frontline services and national coordination, would require at least a 50% increase in the current budget for the sector of 4.5 million euro.
‘No adequate government response to tackle sexual violence in a meaningful way is possible without frontline services for victims. Indeed from 2015 onwards the Irish state will be liable to fines from the EU under the Victims Directive if these services are not in place. Perceptions that ‘reconfiguring’ of front line services can in some-way off-set the impact of year on year cuts occurring in an already resource-starved sector are misguided. Any money ‘saved’ now which results in less services, less prevention programmes and less data and analytical capacity, will most likely cost us dearly, even before you try to calculate the cost to survivors, their loved ones and communities.’
1 This information is a comparison of the same 14 RCCs using the RCNI Data Collection System between 2009 and 2012 inclusive. It does not include Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Cork Sexual Violence Service. Reliable data for Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is only available in 2011 and 2012. No reliable data is available for Cork Sexual Violence Service.
2 As above and please note that Donegal SATU opened in 2010.