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Written Statement - Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill

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Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Local Government and Government Business

The Gender-based Violence, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill has been introduced today, 30 June 2014.

The Bill reflects the Welsh Government’s on-going commitment to addressing the enduring social issues of gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

The Welsh Government recognises in Wales, consistent with the rest of the world, women are disproportionally impacted by all forms of intimate violence.

Although the prevalence and severity of gender-based violence, domestic violence and sexual violence disproportionally affects women, the Bill recognises victims can be from across the whole spectrum of society. The Bill extends to older people, all ethnicities, religions and beliefs, people with disabilities and people from the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community.  

The Bill is aimed at improving the public sector response in Wales to gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence. It is intended to provide a strategic focus on these issues and ensure consistent consideration of preventive, protective and supportive mechanisms in the delivery of services.  

The Bill places duties on the Welsh Ministers, County and County Borough Councils (“Local Authorities”) and Local Health Boards to prepare and publish strategies to address gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence.  It further provides a power to the Welsh Ministers to issue guidance to Local Authorities, Local Health Boards, NHS Trusts and Fire and Rescue Authorities, on how they should exercise their functions with a view to working to address gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence. The Bill also contains provision for the appointment of a Ministerial Adviser, the first role of its kind in the UK.  

The introduction of a specific Bill on gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence demonstrates the significance the Welsh Government places on addressing these issues. The Bill is part of a package of measures the Welsh Government is undertaking to tackle such violence and abuse.

To support the Bill a number of key policy initiatives are being progressed, including in relation to our Healthy Relationships agenda.  I have increased the level of funding provided to Hafan Cymru to extend the coverage of the Spectrum Programme, which delivers Healthy Relationship lessons in schools across Wales.  The extended Programme will go live from autumn 2014 and will see Healthy Relationship education delivered in 100% of schools over a two year period.  Progress is also being made in relation to a wider package of whole school approach measures with a view to ensuring schools mainstream addressing gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

I am also today launching a publicity campaign to raise awareness of these issues across Wales.  In addition, the Welsh Government has today been named a ‘White Ribbon’ organisation, in recognition of our efforts in tackling gender-based violence, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

The Welsh Government is leading the way. I shall be making a Legislative Statement in Plenary tomorrow and I look forward to the Assembly’s consideration of the Bill over the coming months.