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Y Pwyllgor Cydraddoldeb, Llywodraeth Leol a Chymunedau

Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee

12/02/2020

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Caroline Jones AM
Dawn Bowden AM
Delyth Jewell AM
Jack Sargeant AM Yn dirprwyo ar ran Huw Irranca-Davies
Substitute for Huw Irranca-Davies
John Griffiths AM Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Mark Isherwood AM

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Alyson Francis Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr yr Is-adran Gymunedau, Llywodraeth Cymru
Deputy Director, Communities Division, Welsh Government
Christine Grimshaw Pennaeth Trais yn erbyn Menywod, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence, Welsh Government
Jane Hutt AM Y Dirprwy Weinidog a’r Prif Chwip
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Chloe Davies Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Hannah Johnson Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Naomi Stocks Clerc
Clerk
Stephen Davies Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

May I welcome everyone to this meeting of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee? The first item on our agenda today is introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest. We've received one apology from Huw Irranca-Davies, and Jack Sargeant is substituting for Huw. Welcome to committee this morning, Jack.

2. Ymchwiliad ar ôl y Broses Ddeddfu i Ddeddf Trais yn erbyn Menywod, Cam-drin Domestig a Thrais Rhywiol (Cymru) 2015: Gwaith Dilynol—Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 3
2. Post-legislative Inquiry into the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015: Follow-up Work—Evidence Session 3

Okay, item 2 on our agenda today is post-legislative scrutiny on the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 and the follow-up work of the committee. I'm very pleased to welcome Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, together with two of Jane's officials, Alyson Francis, deputy director of the communities division, and Christine Grimshaw, head of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. Welcome to you, all three. Minister, would you like to say anything in the way of introductory remarks?

Well, yes. Can I say how pleased I am that you are undertaking this scrutiny? And actually, I have to say, it was very positive that we had quite a bit in the Plenary yesterday with questions to the First Minister. But I, obviously, am very honoured to be back in a role where my passion lies in terms of tackling violence against women and domestic abuse, having helped set up Welsh Women's Aid so many years ago. So, that's very much reflected in how I want to drive this.

And I just want to say—because the questions, I'm sure, will ask me this—we're five years on from this groundbreaking legislation, which has been recognised by our national advisers in their annual report as one of the greatest achievements of the Welsh Government, but it wouldn't have come about, that legislation, without all those who actually provide the services—particularly Women's Aid, and all the women's aid different organisations, Bawso, et cetera—influencing the legislation and then helping to make sure that we deliver it, sitting on every expert group.

So, I think there's much to celebrate in what's been achieved. Our legislation, as the WAO report said, is transforming services. Obviously you'll want to go into the detail, but I do feel that five years on, time to take stock, we're holding a conference in April where we will do that with all our public bodies and partners to deliver the legislation.

Okay Minister. Thank you very much for that. And I do recognise what you say about your own involvement over the years and passion for this area of work. And I know it's shared by this committee, as well, and we've done a considerable amount of work recently, and will continue to do so on these matters.

Perhaps I might begin, then, with the first question, which is on the Act. In terms of the Act achieving its original aims, do you believe that is the case, and do you see any need to amend the Act in any particular areas?

Well, I think, as I said, it's five years on from the legislation, and in terms of delivering on the legislation, it is a framework for action, for policy delivery, and with powers at every level of Government in every public body that's engaged in this, and in society as a whole. Because this won't happen overnight, even, as we know, with legislation, it'll take time to get that change because violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence has been with us such a long time, and change cannot happen overnight.

I did want to say, just in terms of some of the achievements, I think our training, raising awareness and capability is bearing fruit—really good collaboration in areas of Wales; social housing landlords good at supporting victims acting against perpetrators; services recognising the need to focus on prevention. There are positive impacts that have been highlighted by the WAO, and I've already mentioned that.

I would like to, Chair, if it was all right, give the committee, after this meeting, a list of what we describe as achievements since the last Minister came, Julie James, in November 2018, because there is quite a useful route-map. But I would say, I don't think that this is the time to start thinking about amending the legislation. We do have powers, of course, to introduce regulations, and we would use those if we felt that this was the point where we would have to. But we feel that, actually, amending legislation—we've got to implement the legislation, and we've got to improve on the implementation. I think, of course, the actual national strategy, which all the organisations are also involved in, was published in 2016, so we're still early days into this. It's getting everyone throughout Wales on the ground locally, regionally, to implement the legislation, which is the great goal and objective.

09:35

Okay, thank you for that. What about the—? By the way, we very much welcome the information that you mentioned, Minister, that you'll provide after the meeting today. In terms of the Istanbul convention, certainly—please come in, Dawn—we heard from some that it would be useful to incorporate that Istanbul convention into the Act through an amendment. Is that something that you're considering? Not from what you've just said, but—.

We're definitely committed to the Istanbul arrangements, the Istanbul convention, and indeed the important point then is the UK Government being committed to the ratifying the Istanbul convention. So, this is—. We're very much awaiting the domestic abuse Bill to facilitate this, so then the whole of the UK will be bound by the convention, so it wouldn't need us to amend Welsh legislation. But I think I have to say that we do feel that we're already there. In principle we're implementing the Istanbul convention, because our national strategy was drawn up in line with the principles, the articles, in fact, of the Istanbul convention that deal with devolved issues. It's the devolved issues, obviously, that we've got to take responsibility for.

Okay. In terms of that UK domestic abuse Bill, Minister, I hear what you say about the Istanbul convention. What else would you say in terms of the impact that Bill would have and its implementation?

Well, it will have a great deal of—. It's been very helpful in implementing our legislation because it will produce new protection for victims, and it will introduce powers to allow the UK to prosecute UK citizens who've committed offences, for example, outside the UK. It of course ratifies the Istanbul convention, and that's so overdue, but our officials are working with the UK Government officials. The key thing is to make sure that the Bill does take account of devolution. They actually turn to us, and learn from us, I would say, and have done in terms of the domestic abuse Bill. I think we've got to recognise that some of the provisions already in place in Wales, for example, we have measures to grant secure tenancy to victims of abuse; this does not happen in England. The domestic abuse Bill will not change what happens in Wales, and that's crucial as well, to make sure we're not pulled back by the domestic abuse Bill that is taken forward.

So it is important that we work together on this. I don't know if you want to—

Our national advisers have been involved with the UK Government as well on this piece of legislation. Yasmin, in particular, attended a round-table last year, and some of the work that she talked about that we did here looks as if it's influencing some of what might end up in that final Bill as it's passed.

Nazir also attended their scrutiny committee, and as a result of that, when he talked about the work that's going on in Wales, they suggested that there should be an additional measure to require training on VAWDASV because we deliver it in Wales. So, they are learning from us.

Okay. When we've taken evidence on these matters, Minister, we've had suggestions for amendments to the Act, so, having heard what you've said about not being minded to pursue amendments at this stage, I just wonder what you'd say about two of the amendments that were proposed. One was to align definitions within the Act more closely to the national strategy, for example, with regard to coercive control, and the other was to place a duty to provide adequate levels of service for survivors. So, if you're not minded to amend the Act with regard to those matters, for example, what would you say about the need to achieve progress on those matters?

09:40

Well, that is about implementing the legislation as it is. That's absolutely crucial, and the national strategy is our tool to deliver the Act. The definitions—on your first point—do align with the national strategy. So let's just look at how the Act defines abuse. It defines abuse as

'physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse',

and coercive control is a form of psychological, emotional or financial abuse. We launched a very effective campaign last year on coercive control, which has had a huge impact, and actually last week we also launched the campaign on sexual violence. So the definitions clearly align with the national strategy. The proof is delivery on those definitions in terms of the national strategy.

The duty to provide an adequate level of service for survivors is crucial. Obviously, that has to be the key objective of the funding we're providing and the engagement we have with all the providers. So that's where the Act's statutory duty on local authorities and health boards to publish and implement their local strategies for tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence includes services to survivors. So, that's where our national indicators are so important, and the national indicators include a measure for victims receiving appropriate support.

I think it's important to scrutinise and test how you're delivering on your national indicators, obviously, and that's where—. I don't know whether—. I mean, it is public. It's important to, perhaps—. I'm sure we can share it again with you. That's where we look at the national indicators and then we say—. It's quite technical, who has to deliver it, where the source of data is, and how they're measured, but I think that's how I would answer that question. It already aligns. You couldn't really amend the legislation because it's delivering, it's implemented, it's in the national indicators.

Okay, Minister, thanks for that. Yes, if you could share that with us, that would be very useful. Caroline Jones.

Good morning. The public sector is focused more on acute reactive services rather than prevention, which currently renders prevention a key area of weakness. So in view of this, what is the Welsh Government doing to shift public bodies towards preventative services?

This is crucial, isn't it, Caroline? It's about the culture change, it's about the awareness raising. That's why, as I said yesterday, it's so good when the whole Chamber is considering these issues, like it did in First Minister's questions, because that's powerful in itself, when Members, all of us, have this role. So we have to shift towards preventative services, and I think the Wales Audit Office report did acknowledge that we were slowly shifting, but that's not fast enough as far as I'm concerned, and, I'm sure, as far as you're concerned. So it needs to accelerate, and we know that, as you say, crisis and emergency services predominate, specialist services often, but the prevention then of course starts with schools, with children and young people, not just the public bodies. So, I say that this is about work with schools, it's about our communication strategies, and then it's work with the perpetrators, but it's also work with the police, and we should be able to galvanise in Wales, because we know that we can work in partnership. But it is going to be media, it's going to be communications, it's going to be reaching out, people feeling that they can use our Live Fear Free service, that they know who to contact.

Thank you for that. When we look at the UN's seven strategies for preventing violence against women, this could form a useful framework for prevention in Wales. So, could you tell me how the Welsh Government is using international evidence in its approach to prevention?

Thanks, Caroline, for that, because this does go back to framing the legislation in the first place. We did use international evidence to inform the development of the Act, but also then moving into the national strategy. So, I think the UN is very important—the seven strategies for preventing violence against women—but also the World Health Organization as well. That is, it's really about—. The seven strategies are about respect for women. And I think the fact is that we know that gender inequality is a cause and a consequence of violence against women, so that's why we're challenging gender stereotypes. That's why we've also, obviously, got our gender equality review, our strong communications campaign. But it's back to the point I made about teaching children and young people about healthy relationships, because that does mean raising awareness and training amongst everybody who has anything to do with children. 

09:45

But we certainly do look outwards, but I have to say also people look to us as well. 

It's about sharing good practice, isn't it, at the end of the day. Thank you for that. When we look again at public bodies, we notice that they don't treat violence against women as a public health issue. I'm just wondering: does the Welsh Government consider violence against women to be a public health issue? 

This something that is a very important and developing policy approach. One of the first things I did last year when I took on this ministerial role was meet with Public Health Wales and, in fact, interestingly, Jan Williams, who chairs Public Health Wales, also chaired the big Welsh Women's Aid conference that we supported, reaching out to public bodies. Our national advisers, Yasmin and Nazir, are very keen to promote the public health approach, but we also have our training modules. Some of you might yourselves have undertaken the e-learning module, and if you haven't—. I'm hoping that all Assembly Members will eventually undertake this training, 'Ask and Act'. It does actually start to ask people, front-line workers, to recognise the signs of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and the training that we're doing, the wider training, is taking more of a public health approach. 

Okay. Particularly on the public health issue, Welsh Women's Aid made a number of recommendations to us in their evidence, one of which was a call on the health Minister to instruct public health and health boards in Wales to integrate this work into their wider work, for the reasons that you've described, because it is core to it. And I wondered what your views are on that. Perhaps, after you answer that, I've got a couple more very short questions on prevention, if I may, so—.  

Yes. Well, I think that's crucial. It should be embedded in every part of the health boards' work. Clearly, the local strategies that have to be developed are the duties on health boards as well as local authorities, and that's where I again as Minister—because this is a cross-Government responsibility—will be working with colleagues across Government, obviously—not just Vaughan Gething as health Minister; his deputy, Julie Morgan, in relation to children and social services; education, Kirsty Williams. There is such an engagement across all ministerial portfolios, but I think, in terms of wider work, again it goes back to Caroline's point. Prevention is the big goal, isn't it, in health, a public health approach, and it so often is taken over by the pressures on the health service. So, that's always a tension that is difficult to—. But I think the scrutiny, the public questions, the raising awareness that this has to be preventative—and that's about integration—is very helpful to move this on. 

Could Public Health Wales have an enhanced role in this context, not only in terms of what to do but also in driving understanding that this is prevention and will save money by driving down pressures on crisis services? 

09:50

I certainly think there is commitment in Public Health Wales from—. I've mentioned the chair being particularly committed, Jan Williams. They're also spreading this kind of message in a whole range of policy areas, but I think, again, it's very helpful that the committee is asking that question of Public Health Wales, because they are crucial if we're going to improve health and well-being. This is about the well-being, isn't it, as well, of the people of Wales, and they must be able to exert influence. That's what I'm seeking, but I don't know if you feel you engaged—[Inaudible.]—with Public Health Wales. 

We met with Jan Williams and Tracey Cooper, and Alun Michael was there as well, the south Wales police and crime commissioner. They're working very closely on looking at how they can take a public health approach to VAWDASV. Jan Williams also sits on the Home Office's domestic homicide review panel, so she's very, very keyed into this matter, and she's very keen that Wales should be in the lead on how they take forward domestic homicide reviews and learn from that.  

Yes, and, in fact, talking to Welsh Women's Aid, Eleri Butler, recently about the domestic homicide review—I'm meeting very shortly with Jan Williams and taking this forward because of her knowledge and experience. So, I think Public Health Wales is at the forefront.  

On perpetrators, you'll recall, when the Bill was passing through, particularly in its later stages, a lot of hard work to ensure that healthy relationships were incorporated, or healthy relationships education was incorporated, and also a lot of push at the time for pre-custodial perpetrator programmes. We were told there were no priority programmes, in fact, than what the Relate scheme was accredited, and we've received evidence in the cross-party group on violence against women and children on the perpetrator programmes that are available. But there still seems to be slow progress, certainly on the pre-custodial perpetrator programme agenda, and also the healthy relationships agenda has got sucked into a public debate about relationships and sex education, rather than focusing on why we need healthy relationships education for our young people, particularly as they grow into older people. So, again, in that context, how can we perhaps better sell the understanding of what this is really about, rather than raising concern amongst particular groups that this is about teaching sex to children?  

Yes. There were two parts, two questions, there, Mark, and obviously you were here—some of us were here—when we were taking this legislation through. I think, in terms of perpetrators, a great deal of work has now been taken forward. In fact, I had a meeting about this last week, because we've got a drive in terms of the perpetrator service standards. Those, obviously—. We had to ensure we had standards in terms of training and awareness, and HMPPS—that's Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service in Wales—has agreed to implement our perpetrator service standards for non-accredited VAWDASV related interventions, and there are now practice-sharing events for working with perpetrators across Wales. 

I can say some more about the perpetrators work, but I know that you get the national advisers' reports, Chair, and the national advisers' last report did talk positively about what we're doing in terms of working with perpetrators. There's good practice guidance for non-specialist public services, and more funding being made available as grants for all seven regions, and I've mentioned the practice-sharing events. 

On education, this is crucial in terms of how we develop the new curriculum—the VAWDASV aspects of relationships and sexuality as part of the new curriculum. This is something where the fact that it's also, if you look at education—. And I'm just thinking of the White Ribbon youth advocate programme, which Jack will recall. Last November, we had some really inspiring young people coming—young men coming forward, particularly, taking on the White Ribbon youth advocate—. This is about healthy relationships, and that's where we've got to ensure that the curriculum can gives us a real—move towards that real change that we need to deliver in terms of tackling violence against women and domestic abuse. Obviously, it's early days, and there's a lot of work that we're doing also with children and young people who are also survivors and in family relationships in refuges, and working with the children organisations to see how we can support them. So, it's mainstream and then it's targeted, our work. But it is about, Mark— as you know, it's about how we can develop those healthy relationships.

Bullying comes into this, we know that, in terms of tackling bullying in schools, and it's of huge concern that we still have the disparity of power—and often it is related to sexuality and sex—that we still see with our young people, when power is exercised. And it can be through texting and all sorts of ways. So, we have a lot to do as a society and through teaching professions, through working with schools, through delivering this new curriculum.

09:55

And, just very quickly, you mentioned HMPPS, but does what you state, in terms of perpetrator programmes, include pre-custodial?

Oh yes. It's absolutely, totally—. Sorry, I didn't point to that. Yes.

And, healthy relationships, my question was more how we help those who are concerned about this better understand what it's really about.

Yes. We have had this secondee—Dr Cerys Miles—from the Prison and Probation Service working on these issues. In fact, this is something where we are totally ahead of this. I think—. Well, you can say some of the work that's been done.

Yes. So, Cerys Miles is a forensic psychologist. Her speciality is violence and sexual criminals, so she's obviously very well versed in this. So, she developed national standards for services working with perpetrators. She's also developed guidance for public service sectors who are not specialist—telling them the sorts of things that they can do when they have perpetrators working within their own organisations. She's conducted a rapid review of what works with perpetrators. We're piloting at the moment some promising approaches and we've funded some pilots there. We're funding and providing some supervision to some Master's of research into various perpetrator programmes and so on. So, those will inform our work going forward.

And then, on your point about children and young people, we've just run a very successful communications campaign, and it's exactly about that—your point about it's not just about sex education; it's exactly about the power imbalance that the Minister mentioned. And we also fund the Spectrum programme, which goes into schools to teach about healthy education.

In fact, one of our national indicators is increasing awareness amongst children and young people in Wales of the importance of safe, equal and healthy relationships. That is the goal—that's the aim, isn't it? It's actually delivering. And then—this is fourth—increasing awareness amongst children and young people that abuse is always wrong—crucial—as our national indicators.

Mark, just before you do, I think Dawn just wanted to come in on this.

Yes, just on one point. You talked about the Spectrum programme, and I've sat in on some lessons in one of the schools in my constituency, and it's absolutely superb—the work around healthy relationships is fantastic. But my concern is that only one school in my constituency has engaged with it, and the other schools have just not. And I'm just wondering about whether we can get to a point where there's some compulsion on schools to accept this, because at the moment it's voluntary and they're not all taking it up.

I think there are a number of reasons for that. One is that there are actually quite a lot of programmes out there. Spectrum is the only one we fund, but there are a number of other programmes. Some of them tie VAWDASV in with things like substance misuse. So, police liaison officers run some programmes. So, schools might choose to do that instead. Calan DVS, for example, runs a number of programmes. So, schools might be selecting other things to do and it might not be badged as VAWDASV because it is rolled in with other things.

In terms of the new curriculum going forward, we've been working with education colleagues on the health and well-being area of learning and experience, which will be cross-curricular, and that will include healthy relationships in there. So, it'll be taught in schools, rolled out from 2022. So, for some schools, they'll like to buy in that learning because they won't feel that they're comfortable enough, but because it's cross-curricular, it's more likely to be spread across the curriculum in future.

10:00

I think it's very important to have that feedback, though, that Spectrum—that you've actually experienced. It's a bit like the Show Racism the Red Card, which gets into not every school in Wales—. So, I mean, I think that if we see the change coming, that's prevention, isn't it, and helping to implement the curricular changes? It's helpful to endorse that approach, because we are funding Spectrum. But schools have their local management responsibilities and they do go to different training sources.

Having attended a Spectrum session with 15-year-olds, I'd commend it to every school.

It worked—or it appeared to work. Anyhow, moving on, then, I'm going to talk about commissioning and funding, if I may. The Wales Audit Office concluded that

'Victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence are often let down by an inconsistent, complex and fragmented system.'

And Welsh Women's Aid told us that members who work with survivors of sexual violence have told them that survivors of sexual abuse are not receiving the equivalent priority by commissioners and public services as survivors of domestic abuse, and one example they gave was the housing support grant. So, what action will the Welsh Government take, not just longer term, but in the short term to respond to these findings and concerns?

Again, this is something where, if we look at the national indicators, and, crucially, point 9, 'Ensuring that victims receive appropriate support', which has got to be the objective—. So, I think, again, the WAO report is very helpful in taking stock at this particular time in implementing the legislation, recognising that collaboration is working well in some areas and some parts of Wales, and, in fact, they do highlight, I think, two or three areas: Cardiff, Swansea and Cwm Taf. We have got to drive this collaboration across the whole of Wales, and, in fact, the collaboration is on a regional approach. It's based on the health footprint. So, enabling and working with all the bodies, particularly health and local government, to deliver, to work together, is crucial. So, that required the statutory commissioning guidance, which we published last year.

I mean, it has to be implemented. Statutorily, it has to be delivered by April of this year. It requires partners to work together. They have to undertake a needs analysis, map services and jointly commission services more strategically. I mean, that's what legislation has to do, isn't it? To the power, to the statutory duty, they have to do that. And I'm sure that this committee and all of us, not just Government, will be scrutinising from April how that statutory commissioning is being delivered. So, the key point, really, is monitoring this. So, we're developing a monitoring framework to ensure that that statutory regional commissioning is being implemented. Some of this is about learning from each other, and that's one of the important roles that the national advisers have been playing to bring together, for example, the chairs of the regional collaborations, collaborative bodies, on the needs analysis and the domestic abuse strategies. And also it's about the training that we're providing as well. So, I think we're on the road. We need to take stock and acknowledge that we have to work across to have a consistency. We want no postcode lottery here: consistency.

10:05

Okay. Mark, before you go on, Delyth would like to come in at this stage.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Just in terms of the need for consistency and the problems with a fragmentary approach, to what extent do you think that it's a barrier that justice isn't devolved, and would it help in the longer term if all powers over justice and policing were devolved as well? And for however long that that is not the case, what could be done to work better with those services that are not devolved?

I'm very pleased to be sitting on the justice committee that the First Minister chairs, and you can be assured that this area of policy is crucial in terms of John Thomas's report. I think someone asked that question yesterday of the First Minister in terms of what this could mean if those recommendations could be implemented.

But what we are looking at now is what we can do within our powers, because, obviously, we need the UK Government to agree to that transfer of power to us. So, I chair a policing partnership board, which brings together all the chief constables and police and crime commissioners, and representatives from local governments as well. So, we do what we can. I mean, we fund our police community support officers in Wales. We fund £16 million year after year—our PCSOs. We are virtually running, working with the police so closely, operationally, with devolved services. So, we have to do what we can with the police, particularly, but also with the courts, and family courts are crucial to this. So, Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service—we had a meeting, in fact, with Julie Morgan and Helen Mary Jones and myself last week with CAFCASS to talk about issues around domestic abuse victims in the family courts. So, we have to work with—. And, obviously, they're all willing to work with us in Wales, but, obviously, in the longer term, we want more power.

I also sit on the specialist domestic violence court oversight group, and there's a family court improvement group as well, both looking at how to improve services for victims of domestic abuse, so they're very keen to work with us.

I'll move on, and actually it ties in to an extent with that, although I'm not going to go down that particular debate, or we'll be here all day. The Wales Audit Office found that local needs assessments and service mapping are often incomplete, so commissioners don't know what services already exist, the range of funding sources available, and where the gaps and overlaps are. I'll evidence that anonymously by a constituent who rang me recently, who was a victim and survivor, who was full of praise for some services—particularly, locally, the rape and sexual assault service, but also the support she'd had from an independent sexual violence adviser, the initial experiences and support she'd had in the sexual assault referral centre and so on, but then there'd been a disconnect with some of the follow-on services. Some of these are Home Office-led, but in partnership with the Welsh Government some aren't, but the disconnect—I won't name the services—but the disconnect was blind to whether they were Home Office schemes, Welsh Government schemes or a combination of the two. It was a practical experience, reflecting, perhaps, in practice, the Wales Audit Office deficits identified. So, how do you believe this can be addressed nationally by Welsh Government?

Well, I think the fact that we've now got this statutory guidance in terms of commissioning, which has to be implemented from April—. I mean, it was published last year, so they've had a year to prepare for the statutory duty. We funded regions to help them prepare for this, so it's encouraging to hear that some services already, as you reflect, are connecting up, but very worrying if there's no follow-on, so we do need to scrutinise that. But what we have to do is that people have to learn from each other, so we've had these practice sharing events. We've had two expert stakeholder groups, which national advisers have led and we have work streams to deliver this. They have to identify the needs and see where they're going to meet the gaps. That's the critical outcome of the commissioning guidance.

There are regional chairs and co-ordinators—I've already said, I think that they meet together. So, we should be able to crack this if everybody delivers to the statutory duties in this legislation. We should be able to deliver and have that seamless support. I mean, it is good to hear that parts of it—well, the majority of it, from your own perspective, for this person who contacted you—is delivering. But we will have this needs analysis, the service mapping, and that's got to deliver a change, and we are providing that, as I said, additional funding, to help regions get that clearly in place.

10:10

I wouldn't say the majority of it—a mixture. I'm writing to you at her request, confidentially— 

—just for your own information more than anything else. 

You referred to the regional structure that you're putting in place to deliver the statutory commissioning guidance, and you're saying—I think the term you used was 'we hope this will deliver'. But how will you monitor that so that intervention can be targeted if it doesn't? 

I mean, I've mentioned the funding that we've given for preparation; I've mentioned the meetings with regional chairs and co-ordinators, and also, just in terms of—. Funding is crucial to all of this. We now have this sustainable funding group that Yasmin Khan is chairing, and giving good examples of good practice and, in fact, some of them are acknowledged in the WAO report. The crucial thing is this monitoring framework, which I've mentioned already, for implementation of the guidance, and that is going to be the test—the monitoring framework. 

Could you give us a little more information on that, Minister? Did you say a monitoring framework—when would that come into being?

Yes, we'll be developing that—. The first step was to go out to the regions and find out what they're doing currently—whether they're commissioning across the regions, because we know there's some really good examples, but they're just doing it within local authorities, and then there are other examples where they're doing it across the regions. So, first of all, we're finding out what they're already doing, just as a taster, and also whether or not they're doing it on an annual basis or whether it's on a multi-year basis. So, for example, Cardiff is commissioning really well, jointly, bringing budgets together, and commissioning on a three-year basis, with the option to extend that for up to seven years. In Powys and Dyfed Powys, they're doing it on a three-year basis. So, we're collecting this information and we're going to use that to inform the development of the framework. We'll be bringing a group of stakeholders together to help us to develop that, but it's going to be very much on whether they're meeting the statutory duties within the commissioning and then what good practice that they're also doing that we can share with others. So, it'll be, first of all—do they have a commissioning partnership that includes all the partners that we say they must have on there? There are also partners that they must invite, but we can't insist they have because they're not devolved agencies, like the police and police and crime commissioners and so on.

But they do—. I wouldn't say there's anywhere in Wales where the police—

No, the police are very engaged. 

—are not engaging. I think the other point is that we are not starting from scratch here, and, in fact, the WAO report recognises that there has been strong collaboration across Wales, and you will know that from your own constituencies. So, strong—. I mean, they say there's

'historically strong collaboration…most notably in Cwm Taf, North Wales and Gwent where joint working and regional planning are well established.'

And 90 per cent of public bodies believe they and their partners are effectively collaborating. So, I think it's helpful that the WAO recognises it's historical, but now, with the statutory duty, we've got to have that monitoring framework, which, of course, we will be sharing with you.

We haven't got a timescale yet. It'll be early in the new financial year. 

You described the monitoring of processes, which, of course, do need to be monitored. What about outcomes? 

Well, that's also where it's important to look to our national indicators and measures, and how—. As I said, I need to share that document with you. It's crucial that that transforms into the outcomes, but we'll share that with you, Chair.

10:15

Thank you, Chair. In January 2017, Welsh Government told the committee that development of a sustainable funding model was a priority to deliver the national strategy. Why is it taking so long to develop that? What seems to be the problem? 

Obviously, historically, again, funding for services has been developed before the legislation. We're into our fifth year of the legislation, with the national strategy being launched and announced in 2016. So, we've developed a sustainable funding group—I've mentioned it, I think, already—chaired by Yasmin Khan. They prioritised, and this goes back to the commissioning—. They prioritised statutory commissioning guidance as the key way forward, because otherwise it again depends on a whole range of funding streams and local groups applying for different funding pots, local authorities across Wales and health boards funding in different ways. So, the sustainable funding group is the key way forward to get this right, but it is based on how will they deliver on their statutory commissioning duties to bring all the funding streams. 

I think we've now got very clearly a shared model and we need to have a more strategic approach in terms of funding. That includes looking at all our sources of funding. We've asked the group to map sources of funding that are already used to address VAWDASV. So, some local authorities are using the children and communities grant, for example. Health budgets are used. Yesterday, I noted there was quite a bit of questioning about the housing support grant. If we didn't have what was called Supporting People in Wales, refuges just couldn't exist and we kept that funding going, which is absolutely critical. But, of course, we also have our own budget for VAWDASV. 

But I think this sustainable funding group—. The challenge for it is to say, 'Well, we can't fund all of this centrally, it has to be funded locally and regionally and by the partners', and I have to say, in times of cuts and austerity this has been very difficult. 

So, is it the fragmentation of funding that's causing the problem? As you say, you've had this group working on this for a number of years now. 

Well, it hasn't been working for a number of years, the sustainable funding group. When was it set up? 

Well, we did have a task and finish group and that was disbanded after the commissioning guidance was produced, and we reinstituted it when Yasmin Khan took over. So, it's been going about a year, 18 months. But the biggest problem has been what some recognise, as the Minister said, that you can't just rely on very limited sources of funding, such as Welsh Government funding; you have to look across the piece. Others look to Welsh Government to fund everything and it's just not something that we are able to do within constrained budgets. 

What's interesting is that some police and crime commissioners have funded—. They have been a source of funding—a very important source of funding. There was a transformation—this is the non-devolved side now. There was a transformation fund, Home Office funding. That ceased this year, which is a real problem with the Home Office. We don't know what the future of it is. That's not just an issue for our services here in Wales, but in England as well. So, there's fragmentation in terms of access to other non-devolved sources.

But I think now we've got the sustainable funding group the key thing is the way forward. It's mapping sources of funding, and then we should look to hopefully some consistency, because they've got the statutory duty to regionally commission these services from April, and we will be monitoring them—the framework. They have got to deliver and that's where we need the consistency across Wales—local authorities, heath boards, police and particularly, where possible—. But also—. Women's Aid groups, I know, get funds from all sorts of sources. Registered social landlords are a very key source of funding, because many refuges are now provided through RSLs and they provide a range of services in kind. But also the funding that is provided through other trust funding, lottery—. They're looking for every source of funding given the statutory constraint on public funding. 

10:20

And we've seen that in many fields, I understand. I suppose what the group is looking at is sustainable funding, because for all these services the problem is always short-term funding, and so I assume what this group is looking at is trying to find a way in which there will be longer term funding that gives some certainty to the delivery of these services.

Yes, but that will have to also come from the regional, local needs assessment and finding gaps and then assessing how they're going to fund it. We've obviously increased our funding—it's in the budget, hopefully it will go through—in the next financial year nationally. But Mark mentioned earlier on, IDVAs, for example. What's very important is that—. They're the independent domestic violence advisers, and they're very important in this needs analysis and in providing assistance, because we provided funding for 48 IDVAs back in 2014-15. So, this is not starting from scratch; this is trying to get a better alliance of funding sources locally and regionally in terms of the commissioning, and then where we see that we need to put more funding in at a national level through Welsh Government—. For example, we've got this capital coming forward now, which is going to help services provide provision different from refuges—refuges aren't always the appropriate outcome and accommodation—so, £1.2 million is going into that next year. Well, this has come as a result of feedback and needs assessments of where we should be spending our resources. 

Okay. How's the Welsh Government going to ensure that services in Wales are commissioned and delivered without discrimination? We heard, for instance, from Welsh Women's Aid that there are women with no recourse to public funds, they are very vulnerable and there isn't enough clarity about what classes as public funds and so on. How can we ensure that we're going to deliver this and there won't be any discrimination, particularly to those women that don't have access to those funds? 

This is an area where we are absolutely committed to ensuring that we do enable all organisations—BAWSO is one very good example—to meet those needs. Interestingly, the access to no recourse to public funds applicants, we are looking at the ways in which the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 can and is being used, actually, to help provide services. And, in fact, I've just recently been discussing this with the Welsh Refugee Coalition and the Welsh Local Government Association and the Deputy Minister to clarify how we can have access to social services and other care and support for often destitute asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds. But we're also now looking at provisions in relation to housing as well. But obviously we're caught completely by our powers here; we cannot spend that money.

But I think also, just in terms of commitment to all the protected characteristics, recognising that there is a big—. The Office for National Statistics recently provided statistics just before Christmas showing the extent of domestic violence faced by disabled people. Disability has an impact and people are more vulnerable. I think it's worth the committee looking at those ONS statistics, because we had a disability equality forum. So, a disabled person is likely to be a very vulnerable victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence, and it's something that we're also looking at, not just in terms of accessibility, but vulnerability. I think it is important that we're commencing the socioeconomic duty so that, at least, local authorities and public bodies have got to show how they're addressing policy and delivering policy that will address inequalities, and services in terms of VAWDASV will be part of that.

10:25

Okay, thank you for that. My final question, Chair, is just around the status of the Wales Centre for Public Policy research, both in the review of refuge provision and the evidence review of domestic abuse interventions.

This is something that I've been asking, 'When are we going to see this report?', and I understand it's nearly due. We have had a draft report, which I think will provide a very useful overview of implementation from that task and finish group. But I think it's important to say also that we recognise that refuge isn't always the right approach, and so that's why we put some money into this—capital for other forms of accommodation provision. Actually, that includes the prospects for disabled people as well. So, can we share that report with you, Chair, as soon as it becomes available?

Diolch, Cadeirydd. We've been talking a lot about how, perhaps inevitably, the support that any victim or survivor of domestic abuse or sexual violence will receive is going to be dependent on a number of public bodies working together effectively. The Wales Audit Office has found that leadership and accountability in some of those public bodies is lacking in this. Can you say how you think that could be strengthened? Is that a case for training always? And what role do you think the public services boards would have in this?

Leadership is crucial, and commitment, political will—isn't it? So the leadership has to be political, executive, and then they will be made accountable, particularly under this, because we have the Act, and because of the statutory commissioning. So I mentioned, I think, last year that we funded a conference that was chaired by Jan Williams and Welsh Women's Aid organised it, which was for public bodies and leaders in public bodies to come together, and we've also given them funding to provide training for public leaders to raise their awareness about VAWDASV, and to make sure that they're very aware, because this is about—. They have to acknowledge their statutory duties. It's not a discretionary option anymore.

Because of its five years, I asked the national advisers to chair a conference that we're holding in April. In fact, you may be pleased to hear, committee, that it's in north Wales, because I feel we don't do enough in north Wales. It's a national conference in north Wales in April, and it's going to be targeting leaders. Public sector leaders will be invited. We have to improve the leadership. But I think your point about public services boards is also crucial. Obviously, that's the well-being of future generations, it's a crucial vehicle. On each public services board we have an official from the civil service who sits on them. I've met with them because there's a whole range of issues I want them to look at relating to equality, but it is quite clear that they, again, should be providing a steer in terms of delivery, because it's an ideal collaborative group of all the public bodies who come together as PSBs.

Thank you. And in terms of training as well, we've had some evidence that, obviously, training for many of these bodies is going to be mandatory, but there's a danger that that can become a bit of a tick-box exercise. Specifically with training, what do you think can be done to encourage and to ensure that this change happens in a far more embedded way, so it is actually that the culture changes rather than this being—? It sounds very cynical to call it bureaucratic box-ticking, but that's the danger, obviously. That is the worst-case scenario, which everyone would want to avoid. 

10:30

Training is critically important to take this forward. Again, looking at our national indicators: 

'Those in relevant job roles are trained to recognise and appropriately respond to VAWDASV'.

So, relevant authorities actually have a duty to ensure that all their staff undertake our VAWDASV awareness e-learning training or face-to-face equivalent. We're rolling out 'ask and act' training and, in fact, I think the latest training figures indicate that 167,500 people have undertaken the training under the national training framework, and 4,343 have been trained to ask and act. So, that's required. It can't be seen as a tick-box, and I think it's—. Do you want to say something about promoting the White Ribbon? 

One of the things we do each year is we promote the White Ribbon campaign. Accredited organisations have to develop an action plan for the whole organisation so that the culture changes. So, it's a really good way of getting that across. We're looking at renewing Welsh Government's White Ribbon accreditation ourselves, so the promotion of that through our community campaigns, and so on, is one of the ways we do that. I know there are quite a few organisations, so Dyfed Powys Police are a White Ribbon organisation and so is the fire and rescue service there. So, it's about promoting that through Wales. 

I think it's worth just saying, in terms of our commitment to training, that we have committed over £270,000 to the delivery of the national training framework this year and, actually, WAO did find that training is important in terms of raising awareness and it's largely viewed positively. Also, we're re-letting contracts for training, and we did consult with the regional training partnerships to see what their experience of delivery was, because that's crucial. As you say, if it's, 'Oh, I've got to do this and tick the box'—. So, we have looked at the contracts in terms of ensuring that they are delivering and ensuring that we have commitment.

Training has to be co-delivered by a trainer from a specialist third sector training organisation, and also it's been included in the social care workforce development programme. I think that pre and post-learning questionnaires indicate that 96 per cent of learners who completed the VAWDASV e-learning module feel confident to recognise the signs of VAWDASV. So, that's 45 minutes, which you can do on your laptop. I'm talking with the Commission and all the business managers to enable every Assembly Member to undertake this training. You can do it now, actually; I've done it. But I think we should all do it, because it's such—. And you will then test for yourself whether you think it has an impact on you in terms of learning and awareness. 

I think that's a very good idea. 

Finally from me on this section: Minister, you mentioned the national advisers—there have been calls for that role to be made an independent commissioner with powers to sanction public bodies when they don't comply with the Act. What would be your response to that?

I'm not aware of where these calls—. Obviously, you've had calls to the committee about it, but I'm not aware of other calls for it. I think the national advisers—. Has this committee met with our national advisers, Yasmin Khan and Nazir Afzal?

They are independent. First of all, when the legislation came in, we had a part-time adviser, and some of you will recall that, and then it was felt that it needed to be strengthened. The independence of the national advisers is critically important. Then it was advertised, became full-time, and Yasmin Khan and Nazir Afzal were appointed. They job share. They're hugely influential, and I do think that if you have the opportunity to meet them, it would be very valuable, so you can test out what they feel they have been able to do as national advisers. Clearly, they do some work that is strategic—for example, Yasmin chairs the sustainable funding group—but you will have seen Nazir on the television a lot, and Yasmin. The press like to go to them because they have so much experience. He was director of public prosecutions in the north of England. Yasmin Khan was involved in a specialist organisation in England. All of the people who provide services look to them as sources of expertise.

Now, we have got, obviously, a domestic abuse commissioner designate for England and Wales. I'm meeting her in the next few weeks, because we've got to be very clear about the fact that they don't have power; that person won't have power in relation to our areas, but we also need to make sure that this person—if England and Wales is delivering for us on those non-devolved areas. So, I'm meeting her in April, so it will be very important to see how she sees her role, her independence. 

10:35

Okay, Delyth? Okay, Jack—we've dealt with some educational matters earlier, but we'll return to children and young people in education now. 

Thank you, Chair. First, can I say how pleased I am to hear about the White Ribbon accreditation? And I will declare an interest as an ambassador for White Ribbon; actually, I have a tattoo of the ribbon commemorating the commitments, really. I am pleased to do that. There are a number of organisations in my constituency who've become accredited, even including a builders' merchant, so it's really good to see the Government do that, and I know that the Assembly itself does a lot with the White Ribbon agenda, but I will be pushing for them to get accreditation as well. So, I hope Members will join me in that.

Minister, you said in response to questions from the Chair that you've ruled out amending the legislation for now, but you would, if you see the need, bring forward regulations. So, I would just like to know what your response is, really, to calls that the Welsh Government should bring forward regulations under section 9 of the Act, which will require local authorities to report on how their educational institutions are reporting and addressing violence against women and domestic and sexual abuse.  

Thank you very much, and can I say how pleased I am that Jack Sargeant is here today in this committee, acknowledging the fact that he's been an absolute champion in terms of the White Ribbon campaign, which we all have to be? I think in terms of the Chair's question about amending the Act, which we certainly don't feel—. We've got to implement the Act; that's the message. But we do have powers within the Act in relation to regulations and, as you say, Jack, one of them is that section 9 power. I think this is—. And we've commented on this in terms of the change in curriculum. And, obviously, that's going to be a big new approach and responsibility for the teaching profession and for local educational authorities. 

So, I think at this stage, we feel rather than putting an extra reporting requirement on local authorities and schools—it would be schools that would have to report—we want to implement—. It's a sort of negative way to start, actually, implementing a new approach to the curriculum by saying immediately that we're going to lay on this section 9 power. So, I think it's this new curriculum that we've got to test out first and give them a chance through the training, awareness and development, so that children and young people can benefit, and professionals can feel encouraged and supported in delivering the new curriculum. 

So, I think it's premature. It's there, so if we find in five years' time that there's inconsistency et cetera, then I think then you have to think about those powers.  

Thank you, Minister. And, as the Chair said, we've covered quite a lot in this evidence about children and young people through various questions, but I just want to bring it back to the public health issue, really. And when you mentioned the White Ribbon youth ambassadors, I actually brought a question on that to the Chamber based on some evidence and research from Cardiff University. And forgive me if I'm wrong, but I think they interviewed 75,000 11 to 16-year-olds, and I think roughly just over 5,000 of them said they were affected by domestic abuse, both women and men. So, for me, what actions is the Welsh Government taking to address the lack of services for children and young people who are directly affected by domestic abuse?

But, then, also, just touching on prevention, really: we've talked a lot about healthy relationships, and I welcome that and your comments about the new curriculum, but also where we can bring it online. You mentioned before about texting and so on. Well, unfortunately, it's got even worse from when I was in school. We don't go off these now, and you can block a number, but there are various different ways to get in touch with people and control people and bully people. So, I'm just really wondering what we're doing about bringing it online. Let's use the phone and tablet for good use, bring it to where our young people are. What is that message that we're sending? What is a conversation you're likely to have over the phone, and what images are we allowed to send that are acceptable to be sending across?

And also, just touching on social media, I know this is not in the scope of the Welsh Government, but something maybe you could pass on to the UK Government through your channels about how we're managing social media and the effects of domestic abuse—Facebook and Twitter and so on. I know they're doing some work on that, but what is the Welsh Government's message to the UK Government about clamping down on online domestic abuse?

10:40

Well, thank you very much for all those points, Jack, and I think you're quite right that if we really take the White Ribbon ambassador programme seriously—and it's not just once a year we put the White Ribbon on—it is the most effective way of raising awareness as a public health issue, and it's workplaces that are important. The fact is that the White Ribbon campaign was initiated by men in Canada, and so it engages everyone, men and women, in terms of tackling this campaign. 

Just in terms of children and young people, last year I had a meeting with Julie Morgan, with Welsh Women's Aid, Save the Children, the NSPCC—no, it was Children in Wales and NSPCC. They were particularly concerned about services for children and young people who were affected by VAWDASV, so particularly in refuges, or having support from various agencies. So, we've put more funding into our revenue grants for VAWDASV for this year, and we're going to commission further training for people working with children and young people. We actually did have workshops last year, with, again, children and young people and professionals, to help them understand the needs of children and young people affected by VAWDASV. 

Also, we've mentioned the children and communities grant. Some local authorities have used this. But quite a few refuges have children's workers, and this is going to be part of their needs assessment when they look at these issues. But I think your point about social media and online, that's something we're going to have to look at. I was interested to look at the fact that we've published 10 pieces of guidance since the Act was introduced, and this may be an area that we should look at. And that guidance does range from training to safeguarding older people—that's another issue that we haven't mentioned—along with a toolkit for schools. So, this might go back to your point about what should we do if we don't feel that education is delivering on the curriculum. Perhaps we could give you a link to our toolkit for schools, Chair—

But I think the point—. We have actually used social media very effectively in our campaigns. We've used it for, particularly, the 'This is not Love. This is Control' campaign, with adverts, and also that's been picked up by Live Fear Free, by people then contacting Live Fear Free. But I think it's—. There's a lot of work being done now on protecting children online, and perhaps we can take this back as an area, and work with the Deputy Minister, Julie Morgan, on this.

10:45

There is actually—we do have resources on Hwb, which is our education portal. And we have also developed an online guidance toolkit, which I was just having a quick look through now. But there are resources on our Hwb site for schools and parents and children.

Yes, if you could, Minister. I think Mark Isherwood would like to come in here.

Just coincidentally, this morning, as you might know, the UK Government's announced new powers will be given to Ofcom to intervene where social media has harmful content, including cyber bullying and child abuse. So, you may wish to liaise—I'm sure you will—with Ofcom Cymru over what role they might be playing regarding that. But a wider point—Office for National Statistics figures show, actually, that, although the overwhelming majority of victims of partner and ex-partner abuse are women, the largest number of victims of friend and acquaintance abuse are men, but the fastest-rising group of victims and survivors are boys and young men. When the Bill was going through, amendments were defeated calling for gender-specific strategies for both, but the Welsh Government nonetheless made commitments to continue to prioritise all victims. So, particularly in the context of children and young people, and the ONS figures showing that boys and young men are the fastest-growing group of victims, how, in addition to the broader work ongoing, can that particular issue be targeted?

Yes. Clearly, in terms of—and, actually, our advertising campaigns, if you've seen them, do include male victims as well. And last week we had a very powerful contribution from a male survivor of historic child sexual abuse, at the launch of the sexual violence strategy. The Live Fear Free helpline is key to this; it's a free resource for all victims and survivors of VAWDASV, including men and the LGBTQ community. But also you'll be aware that we provide funding to the Dyn project, which is a helpline for male victims and survivors. So, we have to—. I think the launch last Thursday on sexual violence particularly demonstrated our commitment to looking at this. And also, just to be aware that we've given—. I've mentioned that we're trying to improve engagement with a more diverse range of survivors, which include men—we had one last week. And 'This is not Love. This is control', that campaign, is very much about awareness of the way power and control is experienced by different groups, and that does include men and the LGBT community as well. I mention that because, often, that isn't mentioned, in terms of sexual abuse. But, obviously, as you say, Mark, it is women who are, I'm afraid, the receivers of the violence and the power and the control. That is why there is that focus. But we are—I hope you feel—at least reaching out to the male survivors and victims and young men.

Thank you, Chair. Just briefly touching on the previous question, Minister, I'm very pleased that this is an area where, as a Government, you can delve into a bit more, and I'm pleased about the resources available at the moment. But one of the most hard-hitting, if you like, events that I've ever been to was led by a survivor of domestic abuse. I'm pleased that the Deputy Minister and the First Minister were there as well. It was the first in the UK. And that truly made an impact on me, which I probably didn't think it would as much. So, what I'm trying to bring to the table here, if you like, is, when we're looking at children and young people in particular, it's great that we've got the website up and running, and so on—the resources there. But, perhaps, if we're going to do some more work on that, bring it, maybe, from a survivor-led initiative, but also what children and young people would use, and how they use it. Is there an app out there? Is there—? Will they go on a website? Just something different, and maybe get that experience. I regard myself as young, but there's some stuff that I don't go on that they do and I don't know about. So, is there something out there that perhaps that we would miss without reaching out and speaking to the people who would use it? So, it's more of a comment, really, Chair, but thank you for your comments—I really appreciate that.

10:50

Well, I'm glad you've raised that point, Jack. This was Rachel Williams, who's very keen to be publicly—. She brought our first ever survivor conference, which was at the Celtic Manor. Michael Sheen spoke, as well as the First Minister, and it was so powerful. But the key thing now is that our policy is being steered and geared towards the survivor experience. So, we've now—. And this is something that is in the national advisers' report that you've received. They were piloting the best way to engage with survivors in order for us to develop a national survivor-engagement framework. That's been very much guided by survivors, and the national advisers have played a key role in that. So, I think that the national advisers, if they came to see you, would talk more about that, but it is critically important that survivors are at the forefront of our learning.

Can I just say? They influence our communications campaigns—we consult with them. On the children and young people's communications campaign we just had on 'This is not Love. This is Control', we had focus groups of children and young people to inform the delivery of that, and actually we changed it considerably. They don't want a bunch of middle-aged civil servants talking to them; they want to talk in the way that they—. And that's why we focused it very much on text speak.

I wouldn't put it like that, but thank you anyway. [Laughter.]

Only a civil servant can put it that way. [Laughter.] Okay. Delyth—I think we've dealt with the outcomes framework.

Yes. Could I just ask? Well, this is a comment, really, but I just wanted to endorse a point that Jack had made earlier about social media. In a previous life, I had been very heavily involved in introducing the laws on stalking and coercive control, and we've looked at how support needs to be consistent across so many different aspects of service provision because abuse will affect so many areas of a person's life, and increasingly so many aspects of our life are lived online. It's a good way, as has been said, to reach people, but also abuse can be perpetrated online in so many different ways, and, when it comes to bullying or healthy relationships for young people as well, increasingly that's more—. So, I just wanted to endorse what's already been said and what Mark had picked up on as well.

I'm very aware of time. So, I think, yes, we've dealt with the outcomes framework, and you've mentioned, Minister, that, in terms of looking at public services boards and what more of a role that they could form in this—. How do you think, generally speaking, the Act could align better with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, with the social services and well-being Act, with housing legislation? Again, the fact that abuse will impact on so many areas of a person's life—how do you think these different pieces of legislation can align better?

That's crucial, that we do align them. The well-being of future generations Act—clearly, it's a vehicle for us to make the change in Wales that we need. But the PSBs are the boards that need to take this through. But also I've mentioned the social services and well-being Act in relation to flexibility for people without recourse to public funds and to look at housing legislation as well, particularly reflecting on perhaps even the statement that was made yesterday by the housing Minister. So, we've asked Alison Parkin from Cardiff University to look at ways in which all the legislation needs to be aligned. Indeed, you could say also the forthcoming Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill helps, because that's about regional collaboration. We've got the housing support grant that actually has an outcomes monitoring framework, so we can see how that is being used in terms of the regional commissioning. So, this is something where, again, it's taking stock, but it's helpful to have the question, and I think, at regional commissioning level, they are beginning to see how all this legislation is important to them in being able to justify spending, whether it's on housing, social services, and in terms of tackling domestic abuse.

10:55

Dr Alison Parkin's research report that the Minister mentions—that's published online as part of the gender equality review, so it'll be on the Chwarae Teg website. And so the recommendations for that formed part of the overall 'Deeds not Words' report that Chwarae Teg produced for us, which has been worked up into an implementation plan, so there's a thread carrying that through.

Thank you. And then—this is a very large question for the last four minutes. However, looking at developing the national strategy in 2021, what do you feel the Welsh Government will do differently, especially in relation to engagement, and what lessons, what main lessons, would you say have been learned in the last five years? I said it was a large question.

Well, I think our discussions this morning have helped guide the way forward for the refresh of the national strategy. Leadership is crucial, delivering on the regional commissioning, but we need public leaders to be—. And so that's why I wanted this conference in April, because I feel—. Well, I've said that this is a priority for me this year as Minister. This has to be a priority, to implement what we've got in terms of the legislation and the national strategy, but then it goes back to ensuring that our next refresh of the national strategy is very much embedded on the experience of survivors who can feed into policy development. And I don't think we had that when we started on this track of getting the legislation in the first place, but I think also we haven't perhaps done enough in actually proclaiming—well, at least reporting—on what we have achieved. People are quite surprised to hear how many thousands of people in the public sector have undertaken training, and that it's actually featuring in the work programmes of so many more people. This is where it becomes transformational, and I think—I want to build on the WAO report to help guide us in the future.

But it has to be a united—. In fact, actually, yesterday, I think the FM said to Paul Davies, 'This is where we can have a cross-party approach to this,' tackling me on delivering, but we are all committed to tackling violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence in all its forms in Wales, and I think that's where we want to pull together.

Okay, Minister. Thank you very much for coming in to give evidence to the committee today. Thank you very much to your officials. You will be sent a transcript to check for factual accuracy. Diolch yn fawr.

3. Papurau i'w Nodi
3. Papers to Note

Okay. Our next item is papers to note. We have three papers. The first is the Welsh Government's response to a report on rough-sleeping, following up on mental health and substance misuse services, and we'll be debating that report in Plenary later today. The other two papers are further information from the Wales Audit Office following their evidence last week. Is committee content to note those papers? Thank you very much.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o Weddill y Cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Remainder of the Meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Item 4 is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of today's meeting. Is committee content? Yes. Thank you very much. We will move into private session.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:59.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:59.

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