Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip
I am pleased to share with you the progress made by the Welsh Government since the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 came into force five years ago.
Since that time the approach to tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence (VAWDASV) in Wales has been transformed and huge progress has been made. Implementation of the Act has led to increased training, stronger guidance, practice change and clear strategic direction throughout the Welsh public service, all impacting on the lives of those affected.
Each year we publish an annual report setting out the progress we are making, the 2019-2020 report will be published before the end of this Senedd-Cymru term.
Since the implementation of the Act:
- We have provided over £3.5 million to fund 59 capital projects to help specialist VAWDASV providers deliver improved services
- we have published a comprehensive suite of guidance and toolkits, for schools, local authorities, local health boards and regional commissioners, informed by stakeholders and survivors;
- over 180,000 professionals have been trained through our national training framework;
- 154,056 children and young people have been educated about healthy relationships through the Spectrum project;
- 156,326 contacts have been helped through our Live Fear Free helpline;
- we have conducted a rapid review of what works with perpetrators and published national standards for working with perpetrators;
- we have piloted a survivor engagement panels to further inform policy development
- carried out a range of communications campaigns to raise awareness of what VAWDASV is, challenge attitudes and signposting to help.
(April 2015 – April 2020)
The Welsh Government and our specialist providers in Wales are seen as leading the agenda. The UK Government has looked to us to learn lessons as it progresses the Domestic Abuse Bill, and the other UK nations have turned to us for best practice. However, there is so much more to be done and we have a long way to go before we can realise our ambition of being the safest place in Europe for Women and Girls.
Five years ago, we could not have predicted the Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic is having a significant impact on VAWDASV. We moved quickly to establish the VAWDASV COVID-19 Strategic Group. This is a group of key stakeholders that meets regularly to identify where we need to direct our efforts to tackling the impact of the pandemic.
We have also provided significant new funding to the VAWDASV sector, both capital, to enable services to reconfigure what they do in a COVID-secure way, such as equipping refuges and supporting victims; and also revenue funding for training, capacity building and supporting resilience. The sector has had an additional £4 million this year.
We’ve been running our ‘Home shouldn’t be a place of fear communications campaign throughout the pandemic; letting people know that services continue to operate, and directing them to our Live Fear Free helpline and website.
We have also facilitated local authorities to provide housing support to those with no recourse to public funds under public health powers. Meanwhile, we continue to lobby the UK Government to reconsider how this very vulnerable group can be supported
We are beginning to look forward to the next five years and to working with stakeholders to draft a new National Strategy to take this work forward. The next five years will be set against that context and of the lessons learned from the last five years. I am absolutely committed to taking those lessons and applying them to purposes of the Act to prevent, VAWDASV, and to protect and support survivors across the whole of Wales.
I would like to extend my thanks to the VAWDASV specialist sector and to our National Advisors, for the work you do, the services you provide, and the help and support you give to some of the most vulnerable people in Wales.