Domestic Violence Act implementation: briefing by Department of Social Development

NCOP Women, Children and People with Disabilities

30 August 2011
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC; Gauteng)
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Meeting Summary

The briefing the Committee on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act provided details on the Victim Empowerment programme. The programme aimed to set up centres for victims of domestic violence and elder abuse. These centres would provide shelters for the abused and help them with legal matters as well as provide medical aid. The DSD was also implementing One Stop Centres for victims with all the services they required in one centre. Here the victim could come for assistance and stay in the shelter for up to six months. Issues discussed included the Thuthuzela Centres and the European Union funding of 18 million Euros that was the backbone of the Victim Empowerment programme. Some of the challenges identified by the DSD was the lack of sustainability of the programme if based on donor funding; there were not enough funds allocated for the Victim Empowerment programme and that there were not enough trained staff. In order to over come this problem the DSD had submitted an application to Treasury for additional funding.

During the discussion, Members commented that there was not enough support for people in the rural areas. The Department acknowledged this problem and said it was working with local governments to ensure that more service centres were opened in rural areas. Members raised concern about there not being enough support for men who were victims of domestic abuse. The Department stated that they were looking at programs to assist men who had suffered abuse. In closing, Members applauded the DSD for the Victim Empowerment programme and suggested that the Department look at rehabilitation programmes set up in the United States of America, specifically New York. The Chairperson stated that the Committee would look into establishing a pilot project in Johannesburg based on the New York model.

Meeting report

Domestic Violence Act implementation: briefing by Department of Social Development
Ms Tsholo Moloi (Director: Victim Empowerment Programme; DSD) stated that the purpose of the presentation was to brief the Committee on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. She then outlined the details of the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) which aimed to make the criminal justice process more victim-friendly and effective to address the needs of victims. The VEP specialised in programmes and services to support victims of crime and violence. Some of the core programmes, amongst others, dealt with domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

According to Ms Moloi, resources had been made available. Thus far the Department had developed the Shelter Strategy and implemented it and it was in the process of review. In 2001 there were 39 shelters being managed by NGOs and that number had increased to 96 shelters in 2009. There were also nine One Stop Centres and Victim Support Centres that addressed the needs of domestic violence victims. One Stop Centres were designed only for women and children. By 2010/11 there were 98 shelters and importantly two additional shelters were established that addressed and protected the needs of men who were victims of gender based violence.

She said that a best practice one-stop model was being developed to render holistic services to victims of crime and violence. This model was to be launched in September 2011 in Limpopo.

The Domestic Violence Guidelines for victims of abuse had been developed, stakeholders had been trained and these had been rolled-out to the provinces for implementation.

A Generic Integrated Set (GIS) and monitoring and evaluation tool for the cluster was developed in order to monitor the trends in VEP. The DSD also participated in the development of a Domestic Violence Strategy and booklet led by the Department of Justice.

She said before funding was disbursed to an NGO for a VEP, there were several criteria that the DSD looked into. These included: nature and scope of services, target groups, project objectives, outcomes and outputs, work plan, technical capacity, staff capacity and profile, diversity, financial matters/capacity, financial health check, monitoring, evaluation and learning, sustainability, coordination and non-profit organisation compliance.

This funding model was developed after the creation of partnerships with the European Union where a service provider was appointed in 2010 to develop a costing/funding model. Then grants were disbursed to civil society organisations (CSOs) that provided direct services to victims of crime and violence. Grants were also disbursed to organisations providing capacity building assistance to CSOs offering services to victims of crime and violence. Finally grants were disbursed to research and policy institutions conducting research in the area of victim empowerment.

She then listed the CSOs by province and the amount they received in funding [see document attached]

The DSD had appointed in 2010 a service provider to conduct a feasibility study on Victim Empowerment legislation. The service provider conducted provincial consultative workshops to gather inputs for the study. A Feasibility of Victim Empowerment Legislation in South Africa Road Map report had been submitted. The department was also vetting the VEP policy to initiate the process of developing Victim Empowerment legislation.

For raising public awareness about domestic violence, the DSD reported that not enough budget had been allocated. Donor funding of 18 million Euros from the European Union provided a programme of assistance to the VEP with the UNODC as the implementing partner. A service provider was appointed to develop a VEP brand strategy using an Everyday Heroes brand. The brand would be launched on 8 September 2011. Nine Provincial Road Shows would be conducted, using the Everyday Heroes Bran to raise awareness about victims of crime including domestic violence.

Six cartoon books had been developed on domestic violence, human trafficking, child sexual abuse, abuse of the elderly, people with disabilities sexual assault.

Ms Moloi said that an interdepartmental committee for the Victims Charter was established in 2008 to educate communities on the rights of victims and this committee reported to the national VEP Management Forum and ultimately to the
Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster. Minimum standards for service delivery had been developed and were aligned to the victims’ charter.

A synergetic relationship between the VEP, the Victims’ Charter, and minimum standards and uniform protocol on Victim Management had been established. She listed the various departments that supported the VEP [see document attached]

She listed provisions for counselling services at Thuthuzela Centres where counselling training needs were identified in the Victim Empowerment sector. A partnership with the National Prosecuting Authority was established to conduct integrated sexual offences training for Thuthuzela Centres. With the EU funding, a service provider was appointed to train DSD social workers, cluster departments and civil society organisations on trauma counselling and leadership. It was estimated that over 2000 officials had been trained on trauma counselling.

Ms Moloi stated that the challenges faced by the DSD concerning domestic violence was that there was an inadequate budget allocated for VEP; not enough shelters in rural areas; a shortage of social workers and trained counsellors; there was no full time VEP staff in provinces and regions/districts and there was a lack sustainability of the funded projects and emerging organisations. To overcome the challenges a sector bid had been submitted to National Treasury to request additional funds to enable the department to sustain the programmes developed through donor funding.

The Chairperson asked the members to make suggestions on how the programmes could be improved.

Mr T Mashamaite (Limpopo; ANC) wanted the department to provide the physical address of all the centres so that the members could conduct an oversight visit. He asked for the contact numbers of the stakeholders in each of the provinces so that the members could interact with them. He asked if there were any other challenges beyond the ones that had been mentioned.

Mr D Worth (Free State; DA) asked if the one stop centre also made provision for shelter to those who would not be able to return back to their homes. He asked if there were any trained psychologists at these centres. Was a network set up with the police so that if a person reported abuse to the police, they would assist the DSD in assisting the victim?

Ms A Qikani (Eastern Cape; ANC) stated that there were not enough shelters in the rural areas, especially in the Eastern Cape province and the DSD must investigate the issue.

Mr G Mokgoro (Northern Cape; ANC) also requested the address of each centre so that Members could visit them during an oversight trip. He asked what violations were faced by men in domestic life and whether there were shelters established for men that were separate from those for women and children. He asked why there were discrepancies when funds were allocated within each province and what were the criteria used to determine who would get how much. He also asked why there were no government departments located in rural areas.

The Chairperson asked about the functionality of the victim empowerment centres. She asked about the DSD’s relationship with local governments and other departments especially the Department of Housing and the Police Service. She also wanted information about the monitoring and evaluation programmes, especially the GIS.

Ms Moloi stated that to overcome the challenges they had taken several measures - these included submitting a funding bid to Treasury. As a national department the DSD only facilitated the building of shelters, but it was the responsibility of the province to actually build the shelter. However, she recognised that there were not enough shelters in the rural areas and the Department was engaging the provincial governments on a quarterly basis so that they could provide the Department with a status report on how far the province were in developing centres especially in the rural areas.

She added that they were in the process of training more social workers as well as social auxiliary workers. They were engaging with retired social workers for assistance. Moreover, the training process never stopped and the counsellors had to be trained constantly.

The one stop centre model looked at accommodating victims from day one to a maximum of six months. During which time the person received support and assistance so that they would be able to regain their dignity when they left the shelters. The one stop model was a holistic model where a person could receive services ranging from medical aid to helping them get justice.

Ms Moloi said that the VEP centres did have trained psychologists however she was not able to provide the number of how many were employed.

There were also surveys being conducted that would establish the needs within the rural areas and this information would then be passed on to the provinces so that provision could be made to deliver those services to the very remote areas.

All the centres were operational and the DSD would provide the list of centre addresses so that the member could contact them at any time.

Ms Moloi said that men were victims of abuse; albeit emotional and financial abuse. If the man did not have a job then he had to rely on his partner to provide sustenance and under these circumstances the men were facing abuse. Currently there were only two shelters that accommodated men and they were both located in Gauteng and there were no shelters that would accommodate men and women. There were currently negotiations underway looking at accommodating both men and women in the same facility.

All NGOs that submitted a business plan should have met the requirements set out by DSD. In the case of the Northern Cape, many NGOs had failed to meet the requirements.

While most of the established NGOs would get the funding without problems, some of the smaller and less established ones needed more guidance and support on how to complete a business plan. The local coordinators often assisted the smaller NGOs in completing business plans but she acknowledged that much more need to be done, especially within the rural areas.

The DSD worked closely with local governments in ensuring that all the services were being offered and all those who needed support were getting the support.

She said that one of the gaps facing the VEP was that there was no legislation for Victim Empowerment, which was why the shelters designated for VEP were not registered.

The GIS stood for Generic Indicator sets and these indicators were developed to identify the services offered by the VEP. The GIS had been implemented in four provinces and by the end of 2011, all nine provinces would have implemented the GIS.

Before any new service was introduced, a study was conducted to ensure that a similar service was not being offered by another NGO. This was done to prevent duplication of services.

Mr Worth and Mr Mokgoro noted that during the Committee’s recent trip to the United States, they had witnessed the one stop service as being highly successful because within one building a person could get psychological counselling, legal aid and access to government officials. Also there were strict penalties for the abusers. These were some of the things that were lacking in South Africa and perhaps South Africa should create a model based on the American system.

The Chairperson agreed with these comments and stated that a pilot project should be launched in Johannesburg where an American style rehabilitation system could be set up.

The Chairperson thanked the presenters and asked them to reappear at a later date to update the Committee on progress with the VEP.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.


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