Earlier in the year, the Government published its new Domestic Abuse Act (2021). As well as outlining a statutory definition of domestic abuse, it places new duties upon organisations like ours to raise awareness of domestic abuse and strengthen support for victims. As Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Early years, I am particularly pleased to see the Act now also recognises children as victims and the expectation that they are fully supported to recover from what are traumatising experiences for them.
This new legislation brings with it an opportunity for us to build on the work we are already doing with our partners to tackle domestic abuse in Essex. Our aim is to create sustainable change across the system and we recently launched our new commissioning strategy for domestic abuse.
This strategy sets out how we, alongside local people and our partners, will prevent and respond to domestic abuse across Essex over the next three years and beyond. It is also underpinned by £2.8m of government funding to help us deliver on the additional responsibilities for Local Authorities outlined within the Government’s Act.
But what does this mean in reality? Addressing domestic abuse and ensuring the right support is in place for victims and survivors is a long-term priority for us. Based on feedback from individuals, as well as a review of the current support offer in Essex, we have set ourselves several objectives. We will ensure victims and survivors can:
- live in their homes where this is safe and appropriate
- obtain helpful information, advice and guidance
- access the right support for their emotional wellbeing
- be the primary partner in designing services and influencing decisions
As part of our approach to achieving these objectives, we will work with victims and survivors of domestic abuse to design support and ensure they are involved right at the beginning of our decision-making process. We remain committed to listening and acting on what we are told to improve outcomes for anyone affected by domestic abuse in Essex.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the development of our commissioning strategy. Most importantly the people who have given up their time and been generous and brave enough to share their lived experiences with us.