Cosc is the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Cosc is an Irish word and means "to stop" or "to prevent". Following a Government Decision, Cosc was established in June 2007 with the key responsibility to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated "whole of Government" response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. The work of Cosc covers issues relating to domestic and sexual violence against women and men, including older people in the community.
The office is an executive office of the Department of Justice and Equality. It is situated within the Department, but has been given a remit to address domestic, sexual and gender-based violence from a cross-government perspective rather than solely from that of the justice sector. Cosc’s role covers co-ordination across the justice, health, housing, education, family support and community sectors. This work includes close interaction with non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
We work to improve the delivery of a well co-ordinated effective response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in Ireland. We do this by facilitating action for the prevention of these crimes, the protection of victims and the provision of services for those affected.
Cosc had at its establishment been given specific tasks as follows:
Working with Government departments, Agencies, and NGOs in the sector to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated service to support victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
Developing and delivering awareness raising strategies to ensure that victims are aware of the availability of services in their locality and that society is made aware of the extent and impact of behaviours and crimes of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
Developing strategies, standards for service delivery and training programmes to address the issue of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in line with best international practice.
Putting in place strategically based positive actions which work with perpetrators of domestic violence.
Providing leadership and support to the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women (NSCVAW)and to its sub-committees.
Continuing to implement the recommendations of the 1997 Task Force Report on Violence against Women.
Working to establish a body of research to inform future policy directions for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
Representing Ireland at international fora which have a remit in relation to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.
Proposing legislative and policy change.
Since its establishment Cosc's work has been focused on the development of a National Strategy in consultation with all relevant Departments, agencies and NGO service providers. The first National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence was published in March 2010 and incorporates the recommendations of the 1997 Task Force Report on Violence against Women.
The National Steering Committee on Violence Against Men (NSCVAM) was set up in late 2011 with the ultimate aim of improving the protection and services for men who are, or may become, victims of domestic violence.
How does Cosc do its work?
Cosc carries out its functions principally through interaction with interested and relevant organisations either on a one-to-one basis or through a small number of committees. The office strives to ensure a partnership approach working in a structure which minimises the number of committees. Cosc drives the follow-up action arising from these discussions with a view to improving co-ordination of preventative and responsive action.
The current primary function of Cosc is to drive the implementation of the first National Strategy on Domestic,Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010-2014.
The structures Cosc has established in order to achieve its work can be viewed by clicking on the below link.
Cosc links with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in relation to domestic and sexual violence involving children. Cosc also links with the Office for Older People in relation to domestic and sexual violence involving older people.
The National Steering Committee on Violence against Women
The Government established the National Steering Committee on Violence against Women (NSCVAW) in 1998 on foot of a recommendation of the Task Force on Violence against Women. The Task Force recommended that the membership of the Committee should include representatives from the key Government Departments, the Garda Síochána, Health Boards, GPs, Probation Service, and users of services. The Task Force considered it essential that the NSC include representatives from the key organisations in the sector operating on a national basis such as, and in particular, Women’s Aid and the national representative bodies for women’s refuges and Rape Crisis Centres.
The NSCVAW meets on a quarterly basis. As a national committee, the membership comprises bodies which broadly function at national level. Cosc provides administrative support to the NSCVAW and the Director of Cosc chairs the Committee.
The present membership of the Committee includes the Departments of Justice and Equality, Education and Skills, Health, and the Environment,Community and Local Government. Other State agencies include An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive, the Courts Service, the Probation Service and the Family Support Agency. Non-state organisations represented on the Committee include SAFE Ireland (formerly the National Network of Women’s Refuges and Support Services), Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, Ruhama, the Law Society, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, AkidWa and Pavee Point.
With the agreement of the NSCVAW, Cosc reviewed the remit and functioning of the NSCVAW in early 2008 in order to put in place a better structure for working in partnership. The new remit of the NSCVAW is to:
• advise on the development and implementation of policies and guidelines for action on domestic and sexual violence against women including those concerning services and supports, perpetrators, and State intervention;
• advise on research to be undertaken and needs assessments nationally;
• assist Cosc in the promotion of interagency co-operation and sharing of information;
• assist and advise Cosc in the development of codes of practice for collecting statistics and monitoring responses;
• assist and advise Cosc in promoting public awareness about the issues involved in violence against women;
• assist and advise Cosc in identification of legal issues affecting the prevention of, and action responding to, violence against women;
• share information on international developments in relation to the issue of violence against women.
The Task Force also recommended in their report that Regional Planning Committees be established in each of the eight former health board regions to draw together the services available to women in each of these regions in order to consolidate an approach to the treatment of victims of violence. In 2009 the HSE in conjunction with Cosc restructured the 8 Regional Planning Committees (RPC) into 8 Regional Advisory Committees (RACs).These committees are to focus strategically on the services and needs in their regions as proposed by the 1997 Task Force Report . The RACs feed information to and from their regions and local area networks into the NSCVAW and Cosc. The RACs provide representation to the NSCVAW meetings.
The NSCVAW also oversees two sub committees - The Legal Issues Sub Committee and the Public Awareness Sub Committee. The work plan for these committees is agreed with the NSCVAW and their Chairs attend the NSCVAW meetings as requested and report to the Committee.
The structure and membership of the NSCVAW can be viewed by clicking on the below link
The National Steering Committee on Violence Against Men
Cosc set up the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Men (NSCVAM) in late 2011 with the ultimate aim of improving the protection and services for men who are, or may become, victims of domestic violence.
The NSCVAM will be of great benefit in tackling violence against men. Advice from the committee will inform Cosc’s work with all parties to produce real action, to facilitate inter-agency work and to maximise enhancements across the system
The NSCVAM remit is to :
advise Cosc on the implementation of the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010 – 2014 in relation to violence against men;
advise on the development and implementation of policies and guidelines for action on domestic and sexual violence against men including those concerning services and supports, perpetrators, and State intervention;
assist Cosc in the promotion of interagency co-operation and sharing of information;
assist and advise Cosc in promoting public awareness about the issues involved in violence against men;
assist and advise Cosc in the identification of legal issues affecting the prevention of, and action responding to, violence against men;
advise on research to be undertaken and needs assessments nationally;
share information on international developments in relation to the issue of violence against men.
The principles of membership of the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Men are as follows.
The NSCVAM will include State and non-State organisations.
Membership should be confined to organisations with a broad range of relevant expertise.
Member organisations must have significant experience at high level representation, in matters relating to violence against men.
Members must be in a position to bring to the NSCVAM expertise in areas of major relevance.
Member organisations must be representative of significant stakeholders in action to prevent and respond to violence against men
Membership must support an effective NSCVAM and careful consideration must be given to whether the admission of new members would militate against the effective operation of the NSCVAM.
Essentially organisations wishing to join the NSCVAM must have expertise and experience which is relevant to violence against men.