Best Practice, Expert Services

To ensure that people who have experienced sexual violence living anywhere in the country have access to the best possible services, and that all of RCC work is underpinned by respectful and egalitarian principles, the RCNI developed a Best Practice Model. All RCNI member RCCs have signed up to this Model. This includes Best Practice Standards necessary to ensure that the Model is delivered upon in the areas of governance, direct services and social change. These Standards are explicitly included in the Service Level Agreements with the HSE for 60% of RCNI member RCCs. The RCNI continues to support and monitor the implementation and current relevance of the Standards. In 2011 we continued with standards development, for example, RCCs now operate a Child Protection Best Practice Standard which incorporates all of the elements of the updated Children First requirements.

Good Governance

The RCNI supports member RCCs to implement good governance through the RCNI Charter for Membership. This Charter requires RCCs to follow the RCNI Quality Assurance Framework, including the section on good governance. The good governance characteristics or principles named in the Framework are drawn from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and include fairness, accountability, direction, performance and legitimacy. The good governance characteristics or principles in the Framework are underpinned by the guiding principles of human rights, equality and feminism. It is within these guiding principles, while practicing good governance, that RCCs offer trauma-based, survivor-centred services which aim to hold perpetrators accountable for their behaviour.

Child Protection

As of the date of writing, Children First had not yet been put on statutory footing. All RCCs sign Service Level Agreements with the HSE which require compliance with Children First. The best and most efficient way to ensure that the RCC is meeting all Children First requirements is to monitor Centre compliance with the RCNI RCC member Child Protection Best Practice Standard. All RCC Boards have adopted this Best Practice Standard. Under its current Service Level Agreement with the HSE, the RCNI is producing the templates for policies and procedures required in the RCC sector as required under new legislation with the assistance of two HSE Children First Information Officers. As the new legislation remains in draft form and subject to change each RCC board will be required to ensure it has full clarity on whom criminal liability lies when the legislation comes into effect. The RCNI will do its best to keep RCCs updated, however, ultimately it is the responsibility of the RCC Board to ensure compliance with any new legislation or statutory instruments.

Data Protection

Confidentiality is obviously of prime importance to the survivors of sexual violence and their supporters who utilise rape crisis services. The easiest way to ensure compliance is for a RCC to follow the RCNI RCC member Data Protection Best Practice Standard.

RCNI Model of Service Delivery

RCC services are delivered utilising a survivor-centred and trauma-based model. RCCs operate from the knowledge that survivors have the capacity to grow and change and that they are the experts in what they need. Survivor identified indicators of recovery and healing inform the way in which services are delivered and developed. A trauma-based model means services are offered with the understanding that a survivor’s reactions are a normal response to trauma. RCCs believe that responding to sexual violence in our society and holding perpetrators to account starts with supporting survivors in ways that are respectful of their dignity, healing and choices. RCCs work to hold perpetrators accountable for their behaviour and counteract victim-blaming.

Training and Capacity Building for Rape Crisis Centres

The RCNI Court and Garda Accompaniment Programmes, designed to provide victims with trained volunteers and staff members to accompany them to Court and to Garda interviews, and funded by the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime (CSVC), have continued since 2005. Along with providing accompaniment, the RCC volunteer or staff member is a link to other RCC services the victim may require.

RCNI provides the specialist training required to perform this vital role. In 2011, 82 volunteer and staff members were trained. Additional skills training have been identified and, in 2011, a further advocacy module was successfully piloted. For those survivors whose court cases make it as far as a conviction, there is the option of providing a Victim Impact Statement to the court. An additional training was provided so that RCC personnel can appropriately support a survivor with this option.

Name of ProgrammeTotal Number of RCCs involvedTotal Number of Participants
Garda Vetting
RCNI is Garda nominated agency for RCC Sector
1258 vetting forms processed
Court Accompaniment Training944
EU Directive 2012/29 on rights of Victims of Crime and Istanbul Convention Training55
The Advocacy Role610
Data Protection815


Across the country in 2011 paid staff, contract staff, CE/Tús staff and volunteers at RCNI member RCCs worked over 1900 hours per week to deliver these services. 17% of this work was done by 158 volunteers who provided counselling, answered helplines, accompanied persons who had experienced sexual violence to Sexual Assault

Treatment Units, court and the Gardaí, provided education and training to youth and professional adults, and fundraised to keep RCC doors open. In addition to these hours, volunteers who completed the RCNI accredited training were on call for most of the 168 hours per week required to provide round-the-clock psychological and crisis support at 3 SATUs around the country and 118 hours per week at two additional SATUs.

In order to provide the best possible services, RCC volunteers and staff require specialist training, not only about sexual violence and the likely after effects, but also about the medical and legal systems. In 2011 member RCCs provided over 20,000 contact hours of training by RCNI accredited trainers to 260 participants – both volunteer and paid staff. Some people participated in more than one type of training during the year.

These trainings included 250 hour sexual violence basic information, and 60-75 hour training programmes to provide crisis and psychological support in a SATU, answer the helpline, specialisation for already qualified counsellors and information for those with a non-counselling role. In addition, RCNI organises the specialist trainings which are detailed in the previous Supporting Justice section.

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