learn > news

Latest News

Minister Simon Harris launches Towards a Zero Tolerance Approach - A new Good Practice Guide

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and Minister for Justice, Simon Harris TD, today (26th April 2023) launched Towards a Zero Tolerance Approach: A Good Practice Guide.

Developed by the National Women’s Council, the Good Practice Guide aims to assist Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Ireland implement, and give true life to, Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive – Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions (the Framework). The Framework is a government document, published in 2019, setting out fifteen key outcomes to end sexual violence and harassment in Higher Education Institutions.

Additional speakers included Aoife Grimes, Project Coordinator of NWC’s ESHTE project, Professor Louise Crowley, UCC; Suzanne Walker, Higher Education Authority; Dr Anna Bull, University of York (via video message); Orla O’Connor, Director, NWC.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris said:

“Staff and students are entitled to a safe environment to study and work, free from harassment or violence.

“Therefore there is a particular responsibility on those charged with educating the next generation to ensure that their students and staff are equipped to lead the change required for a society where sexual violence and harassment are not tolerated.

"I welcome the publication of this guide. This joint document between the Department of Further and Higher Education and the National Women’s Council will be a really important tool in helping Higher Education Institutions create an environment free of sexual violence and harassment.”

The Good Practice Guide gives detailed advice on how to implement the various recommendations of the 2019 Framework. It is based on extensive consultation with the National Advisory Committee (NAC), a truly innovative forum, led by the National Women’s Council, bringing together HEIS, sexual violence services, the Higher Education Authority, An Garda Síochána, women’s and student organisations and specialist bodies.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWC said, “1 in 2 women will experience sexual violence during their lifetime and 1 in 5 will experience non-consensual sexual intercourse, which is rape. These latest CSO statistics are a stark reminder of the prevalence of sexual violence and harassment for women, with a significant and often long-term impact on all aspects of the victim’s life.

Sexual violence and harassment happen in all spheres of life and are not limited to education providers. However, Higher Educations Institutions are uniquely placed to take a leadership role and have proven to do so over the last few years. Importantly, this has shifted the onus from survivors speaking out and demanding change, to Higher Education Institutions embracing the challenge of creating a zero tolerance culture. This involves adopting an approach where sexual violence and harassment are no longer normalized and taking swift and decisive action to ensure support is available when victims come forward. We sincerely hope the Good Practice Guide will be a useful tool for Higher Education Institutions across Ireland.”

Aoife Grimes, Project Coordinator of the Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third Level Education Project (ESHTE) said,

“The Good Practice Guide is the result of collaboration at every stage. Based on input from universities, institutions, NGOs as well as staff and students on the frontline of sexual violence responses in Higher Education, it brings together their expertise and experience and provides very practical and detailed advice. The innovative nature of this project, created by and for those in institutions across Ireland, sets an exciting precedent, and an approach that will be integral as we take further steps to end sexual and gender-based violence in Ireland.”

The development and publication of the Good Practice Guide was supported by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

The final document is available on the NWC website: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/NWC_Good_Practice_Guide_FINAL.pdf


For more information please contact Silke Paasche silkep@nwci.ie


What: Launch of Towards a Zero Tolerance Approach: A Good Practice Guide When: 10am – 1pm, Wednesday April 26th 2023 (Photo call at 9:55 am, Launch from 10- 11:30 followed by a ‘How to’ workshop)

Where: Irish Architectural Archive 45 Merrion Square East D02 VY60 Dublin 2 How: Register your attendance via Eventbrite here Celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, the National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work. We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie