Saturday, September 17, 2005

New Victim Support Organisation Launched

I see that a new Federation of Victim Support groups was launched (Irish Independent, registration required) by former MEP Pat Cox today. (wondered where he had got to!)

This follows nearly 2 years of turmoil in Victim Support Organisations in Ireland. It was a classic case of NGO meltdown complete with unfair dismissals cases, unpaid bills and resignations of directors. The closure of Victim Support in March left many parts of the service defunct and other groups around the country branching out on their own.

As an organisation my dealings with Victim Support quickly led me to believe that they see only one type of victim - heterosexual ones. Of course they would quickly add that the sexual orientation of the victim should not matter. But the organisation in all its forms was very slow to move on hate crime and crimes affecting new and minority communities in Ireland. Vast amounts of government money were pumped into their various initiatives but no equality proofing of the work was ever conducted - even by their primary funder, The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. With the increased focus on community relations policing including the development of lgbt liaison officers in An Garda Siochana, one can only hope that this new venture into supporting the victims of crime will broaden its definition of crime and the services offered.

There are some who advocate lgbt communities developing their own initiatives, and point in the direction of the models available in other cities including New York. I doubt that the government would ever fund the development of such an agency. They probably would point the finger at the money that they give to existing bodies.

However given the lack of general community service provision in Dublin and Ireland generally I don't see moves happening on that front either. The AVP in New York also deals with domestic violence, another area where the existing agencies ignore lesbians and gay men in their work. But thats the subject of another posting at another time.

Maybe I will be wrong, maybe this new grouping
  • will recruit LGBT volunteers to work with LGBT victims,
  • train all victim counsellors in hate crimes awareness, equality training and cultural issues.
  • Run poster and awareness campaigns and
  • work with the Garda Liasion Officers to provide follow up support.


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