The Immigrant Council of Ireland is calling on the Government to implement comprehensive victim support measures, including access to legal advice, counselling services and training for frontline staff. The call comes today (21.03.21), marking International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Valeria Aquino, Integration Officer at the Immigrant Council said these services should be part of the upcoming National Action Plan Against Racism, and must be developed in partnership with civil society and funded by the State, as a matter of priority.
“There is a lack of services to support victims of racism and discrimination, especially at the local level, so the information and help doesn’t always reach the people that need it most. Racism is a traumatising experience, and the least people deserve is access to quality support, regardless of where they are based.”
“The Immigrant Council is also advocating for the development of national standards for victims support. As part of this, we are working on a guiding document and training for frontline staff on how to provide victim-centred support services for people experiencing racism.”
10 Years Providing Anti-Racism Support Service
This year marks 10years since the foundation of the Immigrant Council’s Anti-Racism Support Service. The service was set up to monitor racist activity and provide bespoke emotional support to victims and witnesses of racist incidents. Since its foundation, it has provided one-to-one advice and referral services to almost 800 victims of racism and discrimination.
Dr Fidele Mutwarasibo, former Integration Manager at the Immigrant Council, who was part of the team that initially set up the anti-racism service, said: “In 2011 the Anti-Racism Helpline was the only dedicated national support service for people victimised by racism, and it continues to be the only nationally available support service to date. It is disappointing to see that not much has changed in the last 10 years for victims of racism.
“While it is positive to see the improved recording of racist incidents by Gardaí and the commitment from Government to introduce both hate crime legislation and a National Action Plan, it is disappointing to see that not much has progressed in the last 10 years in how Ireland supports victims of racism. Racism is still not taken seriously, victims suffer in silence, and civil societies like the Immigrant Council struggle to fill the gap left by State services in supporting victims.”
Valeria Aquino also added that in recent years, the Immigrant Council has been unable to meet the increasing demand for racism victim support. “Due to ongoing challenges with funding and resources, the Council has struggled to meet the demand for victim supports. We are calling on the State to fund the development of dedicated support networks to meet the increased need, as a matter of urgency.”
Importance of meaningful support
While reporting and data collection play a role in the fight of racism, the Council is also highlighting today the need for validation, justice and meaningful support for people who are victims of racism.
Joy-Tendai Kangare co-founder of Rooted in Africa-Ireland (RIAINetwork), a community organisation aimed at supporting young people and families who identify or are identified as Black in Irish society, said: “Reporting of racism and data collection serves only those who are unaffected. We all have an experience where we reported racism and nothing could be done, due to lack of proper legislation. I feel that the Black community are losing trust in the system. There are no supports available to victims of racial abuse and/or discrimination, so it is up to grass roots organisations like Rooted in Africa-Ireland to help members of their own community.”
As part of the International Day Against Racism, the Immigrant Council of Ireland will be delivering a free public webinar on Monday, 22 March from 6pm-7pm. The session will explore the need for adequate racism-victim supports. People interested in attending can register here: https://www.immigrantcouncil.ie/news/webinar-racism-victims-support-beyond-reporting