The title phrase is the call out banner used on the front page of the Northern Ireland administration’s draft Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy 2023-2030 published on 7 February. The joint publication - from the Health and Justice Departments - builds on the findings of a call for views in early 2022 and focuses on four key pillars: Partnership, Prevention, Support and Justice.
The draft strategy sets out high level outcomes for each pillar, underneath which sit priority areas of activity. The joint strategic aim here is “to work together as partners, agencies and communities to make real, sustainable progress in tackling domestic and sexual abuse by addressing the root causes; ensuring those affected get the right support; and holding individuals who are abusive to account.”
What is described by the strategy is a broad social programme, so - perhaps unsurprisingly - there is nothing specific about the civil processes by which redress is pursued following incidents of tortious sexual abuse, other than this particular outcome within the Justice pillar:
Improving the efficiency of the justice system and how domestic and sexual abuse cases are dealt with in criminal, civil and family courts
Standing back a little, the draft strategy is an ambitious programme which, if implemented in full, should achieve a meaningful step-change in how society addresses domestic and sexual abuse. As always, however, implementation in practice will need to be balanced along with other competing demands on public funds. The foreword acknowledges this reality, noting that: “full implementation of the strategy is subject to confirmation of additional funding … the scale and pace of our delivery will be informed by available resources, and that it will be important that we focus resources on those priorities which will have the most significant impact.”
The joint strategy seeks to identify specific policy measures and goals in each of the pillar areas that will go towards meeting the overall aim. The departments are seeking views on the ideas and activities - which stretch across 38 pages - from as wide a range as possible of organisations and members of the public.
The twelve-week period for responses will close on 2 May 2023 and the consultation’s webpage lists several online briefings about the programme which will be held in the first half of March. Further details here: Consultation on new Domestic and Sexual Abuse Strategy published today | Department of Justice (justice-ni.gov.uk).