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02 Oct 2022

Dundalk IT awarded €833k in recognition of Domestic Abuse Initiative

HEA Performance Funding

Dundalk IT awarded €833k in recognition of Domestic Abuse Initiative

Dundalk IT awarded €833k in recognition of Domestic Abuse Initiative

Dundalk Institute of Technology has been awarded €833k in recognition of their work delivering the first accredited programme for frontline staff on how to recognise and respond to Domestic Abuse.

The funding comes from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which awards performance funding in recognition of the exemplary contributions that higher education institutions are making to society, the environment and economy at local, national and international levels.

DkIT co-created and delivered Ireland’s first accredited programme aimed at frontline staff in how to recognise and respond to domestic abuse. Through the work of Louth Children’s and Young Persons Services Committee, it emerged that although the area of domestic abuse was covered in third level undergraduate programmes, there was a lack of accredited training programmes for those working in the sector.

This prompted DkIT to carry out a survey of frontline professionals in 2015 which identified that 140 respondents from a range of domestic abuse support services had no accredited qualification in domestic and had an expressed interest in undertaking a programme of training in this field.

In response, it developed the 13-week Level 8 programme "Certificate in the Fundamentals of Understanding and Responding to Domestic Abuse" (FURDA) as an inter-agency collaboration with key individuals from a range of stakeholder groups. These groups include Women’s Aid Dundalk, Drogheda Women’s and Children’s Refuge Centre, the Probation Service, the Departments of Social Work and Midwifery at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda and An Garda Síochána.

Launched in 2016, the FURDA programme has been completed by almost 150 students from a diverse range of frontline services in almost all counties in Ireland. The programme is delivered almost fully online, meaning it has a national and, potentially, an international reach. 

Dr Edel Healy, Head of School of Health & Science said “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this award and recognition from the Higher Education Authority. The award is a testament to all of those who collaborated and created this course. This initiative was designed for the community by the community and is a multiagency approach to a very important issue as highlighted in the recently published Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual & Gender-Based Violence 2022-2026.

Louth Fine Gael TD, Fergus O’Dowd, welcomed the news of the funding from Minister Simon Harris. Deputy O’Dowd said “We have seen an appalling increase in abhorrent domestic violence during Covid and frontline staff in many cases have been the key in identifying victims so appropriate responses and supports can be put in place. Any initiative to assist frontline staff in this area is to be championed and embraced and I would like to congratulate DKIT on progressing this initiative.

He added “DKIT’s case submission “The changing landscape of Domestic Abuse – The impact of a multi-agency educational initiative” was deemed to have delivered a valuable contribution towards national strategic objectives set out in the Higher Education System Performance Framework and evolving national policy priorities. 

The awards were based on an evaluation of 18 Impact Case Studies submitted by higher education institutions (HEIs) to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in April 2022. The funding awards can be used to expand and progress existing initiatives or put towards new initiatives that contribute towards national strategic imperatives and oversight of the funding awarded will be managed by the HEA. 

Commenting on the awards Minister Simon Harris said: “It is vital that we recognise outstanding performance in higher education, and I would like to congratulate the successful institutions on their exceptional case study submissions.

"Together, these institutions are making a significant and lasting impact in Irish society, tackling key national issues such as domestic and gender-based abuse, the development of our natural energy resources, and opening new pathways into higher education for professional learners and under-represented groups.”

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