Rape Crisis Centres are operating far beyond their capacity and are gravely concerned for the future of their critical services
On 27 September 2022 the Government will publish its 2023 Budget. Rape Crisis Network Ireland is calling for an investment in the Rape Crisis sector so that survivors can access supports they need in a timely, straightforward manner and avail of them in a comforting and nurturing environment. They are asking that through a combination of funding and support the Government ensures that survivors are met with a set of supports including specialist, trained and accredited counsellors that have a full understanding of the distress, needs and rights of those who have been subjected to sexual violence.
There are four crisis areas which urgently need to be addressed.
In the last 10 years, RCNI has recorded a 63% increase in appointments provided by RCCs, and a 30% increase in the number of survivors and supporters attending RCCs for counselling and support.
In July 2021 there were 967 survivors on waiting lists for counselling at 16 Rape Crisis Centres. 556 of these survivors had been waiting more than one year.
RCNI research identified that survivors found waiting lists to be damaging and off-putting.
Solution: Budget 2023 to provide funding increases to RCCs to meet current demand for services.
Every Rape Crisis Centre in Ireland has a Helpline, yet none of the Helplines, outside of the 24-hour National Helpline run by Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, receive any state funding.
Approximately 50,000 contacts are made to RCC Helplines across the country every year – 73% of these are made to local RCC helplines
In the last 10 years RCNI has recorded a 100% increase in contacts to Helplines.
Solution: Survivors, supporters, professionals and others contacting RCCs have clearly demonstrated an irrefutable need for Helpline access to their local RCC. This needs to be acknowledged by the State with a budget that will secure fair, survivor centred, geographical access to services.
Rape Crisis Centres require permanent, safe, and accessible premises in order to provide their services and meet survivor needs. Many Centres rent premises and are therefore at risk within the current property crisis. It is imperative that RCCs have secure, stable and fit for purpose premises, adequate to meet the increasing demand for services.
Solution: An urgent review of RCC accommodation to be undertaken and a suitable capital budget allocated to this review’s outcomes.
Sustained Specialisation And Training
Sexual Violence counselling is a specialist area of psychotherapy and counsellors working in RCCs are required to have specialist training to work with survivors of sexual violence. Evidence demonstrates that generic services may be harmful to survivors. Due to a sustained absence of investment in training development, survivors are increasingly relying on non-specialist supports who in turn are reaching out to the existing, overworked and overloaded specialists to guide their work.
Investment in training development and a complete specialist sexual violence curriculum and accreditation for counsellors and volunteers at every stage of their engagement with survivors is essential so that both counsellors and survivors are provided with the skills, knowledge and techniques to confidently work together towards recovery.
Solution: The specialist sexual violence skills deficit with the counselling and psychotherapy sector must be addressed with sustainable training development and support coupled with accreditation.
Exacerbating this situation are retention and recruitment challenges. There is no standard rate of pay, and pay and conditions generally compare unfavourably with the public and private sectors.
Solution: A national pay and conditions review must be carried out as a matter of urgency.
Rape Crisis Centres are a vital response to sexual violence and can be a critical factor in the recovery of survivors. The centres urge that Budget 2023 must reflect their value to the individual and the community.
Rape Crisis Centres can be accessed at www.rcni.ie
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