05/10/2021

Domestic And Sexual Abuse Policy For Civil Service

A new Domestic and Sexual Abuse Policy has been announced for Northern Ireland's Civil Service by Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

Speaking after visiting Nexus, a charity which supports people affected by sexual trauma, with Head of Civil Service Jayne Brady, Minister Murphy said the policy aims to support staff affected by domestic or sexual abuse.

He explained: "Domestic and sexual abuse is wholly unacceptable but the reality is there are thousands of people here affected by abuse who are living with that trauma every single day. As an employer, the Civil Service has a responsibility to support any member of staff impacted by abuse which is why the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Policy has been produced.

"The policy ensures assistance and support is available to any member of staff who discloses that they have been affected by domestic abuse, regardless of where the abuse takes place. The Civil Service is also rolling out additional training to a range of staff to help embed and support the implementation of this important policy."

Minister Murphy, who has policy responsibility for Civil Service HR matters, said visiting Nexus and hearing about how in 2020/21 the charity provided over 15,000 counselling sessions to victims and survivors of sexual trauma from the age of five had been a stark reminder of the ordeal faced by those impacted by sexual and domestic abuse.

He added: "Meeting the staff at Nexus and learning about the vital work they do reinforced the importance of this policy. Workers can feel reassured that support is available for them within the organisation. We have also included advice for staff on how to assist a colleague they suspect, or who discloses that they have been affected by domestic and sexual abuse."

Commenting on the policy, Head of the Civil Service Jayne Brady said: "As an organisation, it is important we do everything we can to help staff who may be impacted by domestic and sexual abuse and this revised policy helps to ensure they have both the support and the information they may need, whether that is as a survivor or as someone who has concerns about a colleague.

"The additional staff training is also extremely important as it ensures the revised policy works in action. Importantly, it gives staff within the organisation the knowledge and understanding they need to be able to offer support to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse."

Emma Nelson, Business Services Manager at Nexus, added: "We are pleased to host Minister Murphy as he launches this policy. It is important employers take a proactive approach in tackling an issue that can affect anyone of any age, gender, or sexual orientation.

"There are many forms of abuse including physical, threatening, harassment, sexual exploitation, image based sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and coercive control.

"As a society, we must always believe the victim and survivor and offer specialist support to help with their trauma, but we must also give power to allies, bystanders and advocates in challenging and breaking the silence against domestic and sexual abuse. The 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is free and confidential and available for anyone affected and to anyone worried about a friend or relative and would like support on how to help them."


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