The RCSI Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave Policy was launched today by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The policy was developed through engagement and consultation with a number of resources and organisations including Women’s Aid and Men’s Aid. According to the College, it outlines that RCSI “recognises and will deal sensitively with any employee who may be experiencing domestic violence and abuse and provides clear guidance on the supports, internally and externally, that are available”.
This work aligns with the recently published Higher Education Authority’s Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education Institutions Implementation Plan, 2022–2024.
In 2018, an RCSI working group was established to develop a framework and policy aimed at ending sexual violence and misconduct. The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) served as an external advisor to this group.
In January 2021, a dedicated ESP (Ending sexual violence, Supporting survivors, Promoting consent) Forum for staff and students was launched. The Forum is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the Consent Framework at RCSI, as well as organising a range of events and awareness raising campaigns including Speak Out.
The ESP Forum is currently developing an Action Plan which aligns with the Consent Framework and the HEA’s Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education Institutions Implementation Plan, 2022–2024.
RCSI’s Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave Policy is a key action within this plan. The policy outlines a range of appropriate reasonable accommodations and supports including adjustments to working arrangements and dedicated leave to support staff members experiencing domestic violence and abuse.
RCSI Vice Chancellor, Prof Cathal Kelly, said: “RCSI is committed to a culture of respect for all, and so it is important that we raise awareness and understanding of the realities of domestic violence, the impact that this has on our friends and colleagues and how we can take positive steps to support them. This Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave policy and awareness-raising presentation is an example of the progress that RCSI is making in addressing sexual violence, supporting survivors and promoting consent. It builds on the existing measures, policies and programmes available to support RCSI staff during difficult times.”
In a video message of support, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, said: “I am delighted today to launch the RCSI’s Domestic Violence and Abuse Leave Policy. We are at a crucial point at this time where there is zero tolerance of domestic violence and abuse in Irish society.
“That’s why I wrote out to all higher education institutions last year to encourage them to consider implementing a domestic violence and abuse leave policy to cover all staff, and I am delighted that RCSI has been a leader in implementing this change today.
“I want to thank everyone who worked so hard on this policy, a policy which I firmly believe will contribute to changed cultures and attitudes to all forms of violence and harassment in our tertiary education sector.”
Ms Hannah Wayte addressed the event on behalf of the Women’s Aid organisation, which will also be providing relevant training to support RCSI’s implementation of the policy.
Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline: 1800 341 900, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Men’s Aid Confidential National Support Line: 01-5543811. Men’s Aid operates Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre National 24-Hour Helpline: 1800 77 8888
Safe Ireland List of Local Helplines https://www.safeireland.ie/get-help/where-to-find-help/