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Monday, July 06, 2015

A part-time commitment to tackling domestic abuse?

For a Welsh government that prides itself on its anti-domestic violence agenda, the decision to make the first ever statutory national advisor on the subject a part-time post was an extraordinary gaffe. The question is whether a part-time advisor will have the time to carry out the tasks created for him/her.

The Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 was controversial from the outset as many people felt that it did not go far enough to tackle domestic abuse and sexual violence. In particular, all three opposition parties were concerned that sufficient and appropriate mechanisms were not being put in place to mainstream education on relationships in schools and only agreed to vote for the bill as a result of last minute assurances by the Minister.

I am shocked therefore that the recent advert for the National Advisor states: "The hours expected to fulfill this role will be part-time".  It seems to me that coordinating the various bodies involved in delivering this service, advising Ministers on important issues such as funding and overseeing the important education agenda is in fact a full time job. We need much more information and assurances on this matter. Will the National Advisor have a team of staff for support for example or will they be expected to fulfil the role individually? The government must not backtrack on this vital role.

The statement is revealing the government’s failings, by its lack of content. The duty to prepare and report on national strategies and local strategies were a main part of the Act yet we learn nothing about them.  When will the national and local strategies be published?  One of the biggest amendments to the Bill at Stage 3 was the inclusion of education but the statement is failing to tell us what action is being taken.  We are told that the curriculum review will include healthy relationships education but how will this happen?  Will it be mandatory for all schools, as recommended by the UN?

This Act is essential, but to achieve its aims we need more than words from the Minister.  We need to see progress on actions, and change.
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