Today, the Wales Audit Office has published ‘Progress in implementing the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Act’.
Given that the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 has been in place for 4 years, with its legislative duties on public bodies to prevent VAWDASV and protect and support survivors it is significantly disappointing that the Wales Audit Office has found that the public sector responses across Wales to domestic abuse and sexual violence continues to be “an inconsistent, complex and fragmented system.”
Eleri Butler, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid said;
“We face a stark choice in Wales of delivering on the national duties to prevent, protect and support survivors of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, or to fail survivors in Wales by continuing a piecemeal approach that does not meet the needs of women and girls that are living everyday with domestic abuse, sexual violence, so-called honour-based violence, sexual exploitation and harassment.”
“Domestic abuse alone costs society £66 billion a year in England and Wales. Imagine if the state ring-fenced a small portion of this cost to society to invest in specialist services, including refuges and rape crisis provision. Just 10% of this budget could end the ‘quick fix’ approach and deliver a long-term, whole system response to ending violence against women that really makes a difference to survivors as well as deliver prevention in our communities.”
“In Wales, Government committed to provide sustainable funding for specialist services in its 2016 national strategy. Services have called for at least 5-year sustainable funding to enable them to meet need and reduce levels of abuse in their communities. We are still waiting for this commitment to become reality. We need everybody to be working towards a Wales where no one is turned away from life-saving and life-changing support when they need help and that, in Wales, we ensure everyone can live free from fear and abuse.”
While we welcome the recommendations, we are unfortunately not surprised by the findings of the report because for the last 3 years, our State of the Sector reports have evidenced the impact limited, uncoordinated and short-term funding and the lack of leadership has had on the provision of specialist services for survivors. The Wales Audit Office report shows that funders, public sector partners and Welsh Government in Wales must listen to the concerns of specialist services and survivors and act now.
We strongly welcome the reports acknowledgement that specialist services offer better value for money in their “quality, impact and coverage.” Survivors have told us that it is through the support of specialist services that they can maximise their safety and meet their needs. This requires specialist services to be securely and sustainably funded in order to meet the needs of survivors and offer them the support and protection they need to achieve long term freedom from abuse.
Welsh Women’s Aid will continue to work to inform the implementation of the VAWDASV (Wales) Act 2015 and to support public sector and other stakeholders to ensure we work towards a Wales where women and children to live free from abuse. Anyone in Wales who is experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence and other forms of violence against women or is concerned about someone else can contact the 24-hour Live Fear Free Helpline (0808 80 10 800, https://gov.wales/live-fear-free) for confidential help and support.
A copy of the Wales Audit Office Report is available here.
Notes to Editors:
- For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Gwendolyn Sterk, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at Welsh Women’s Aid on 02920541551, 07375559518 or email [email protected].
- Welsh Women’s Aid is the lead national organisation in Wales, providing the voice of local services and survivors to government as well as campaigning, influencing policy and practice, and innovating to end domestic abuse and violence against women across Wales and the UK. More information is available at welshwomensaid.org.uk
- Our Change That Lasts model, which we are piloting with public sector and specialist service partners (funded by South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner), aims to create change in communities, services and systems across Wales for survivors of all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and deliver earlier intervention with perpetrators. This includes training up community ‘ambassadors’ and trusted professions to create and enable survivors to access support at the earliest possible opportunity, recognising that violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is everyone’s business.
- Anyone affected by domestic abuse or sexual violence in Wales can contact Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800, https://gov.wales/live-fear-free for 24/7 confidential information and support.
 State of the Sector 2018: https://welshwomensaid.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/State-of-the-Sector-2018.pdf
State of the Sector 2017: https://welshwomensaid.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/State-of-the-Sector-2017.pdf
State of the Sector 2016: https://welshwomensaid.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/State-of-the-Sector-2016.pdf