Domestic Abuse (Prevention)

Finance and Public Services and Communities – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 2nd December 2004.

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Photo of Janis Hughes Janis Hughes Labour 2:00 pm, 2nd December 2004

To ask the Scottish Executive what funding assistance is offered to organisations involved in the prevention of domestic abuse. (S2O-4397)

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

Over the past few years, an unprecedented amount of funding has been made available to organisations that are involved in the prevention of domestic abuse. From 2000 until 2006, almost £26 million will have been spent on tackling domestic abuse. A further £6 million will have been spent on the wider forms of violence against women. The funding includes such programmes as the refuge development programme, the domestic abuse service development fund, the Scottish domestic abuse helpline and the domestic abuse court pilot.

Photo of Janis Hughes Janis Hughes Labour

Does the minister agree that Scottish Women's Aid and other such organisations that are working in my constituency and throughout Scotland must continue to be resourced, so that they can provide invaluable assistance to women and children, who are by far the main victims of domestic abuse?

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

Absolutely. The Scottish Executive has recognised the key role of Scottish Women's Aid, both by providing funding and by working with such organisations to develop a strategy. We know that 89 per cent of the victims of domestic abuse are women and that more than 89 per cent of perpetrators are male.

The two purposes of our strategy are to support anyone who is a victim of violent intimidation and abuse and to prevent it. Unless we acknowledge the pattern of violence and unless we challenge the attitudes that underpin it and allow it to develop, we will never change it. Scottish Women's Aid and other organisations like it have been crucial not only in supporting survivors of abuse but in raising the hard issue of what causes abuse, which gives us an opportunity to take action to eradicate this evil.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

I welcome the minister's comments. I wish to raise a constituency matter relating to the Edinburgh domestic violence probation project, which has been running for many years. The project is waiting to hear the outcome of an application for additional funding to allow it to operate at proper capacity. At present, sheriffs are unable to divert people to the project and although it has been successful in Edinburgh, it cannot be extended to other jurisdictions, such as Haddington. Will the minister consider accelerating consideration of the project's funding in order that further progress can be made?

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

The Scottish Executive is committed to working with organisations and projects that seek to make the changes on which we all agree. Although I do not know the details of the project to which Kenny MacAskill referred, I am more than happy to meet him to talk about it or to receive correspondence from him highlighting the issues, which I will ensure are pursued within the Executive.

Photo of Ms Rosemary Byrne Ms Rosemary Byrne SSP

Given that many young people and children in schools display emotional difficulties or do not learn because they are affected badly by domestic violence, does the minister agree that there is a need for more awareness raising among teachers? Does she agree that initial teacher training courses should provide courses in conjunction with Scottish Women's Aid—which does training well—and that refresher courses should be provided every few years so that teachers are aware of the signs and know how to deal with those young people?

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

When I was a schoolteacher I worked with young people who were often blamed for their non-attendance and difficulties in school, when in fact their behaviour was absolutely logical given what was happening to them in their homes. Sometimes they were afraid to leave their homes because they were afraid of what they would go back to if they left their mother on her own. I understand the issues that Rosemary Byrne highlighted. The £6 million that has been allocated to children's workers recognises that there are people who, although they are not working in Scottish Women's Aid refuges, have a central role in working with young people. It is crucial that as a result of training for teachers and other people who work in schools and elsewhere, they should be able to ask the right question at the right time, to allow young people to explain their circumstances in a safe way and get the help that they and their families need.