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Education Minister opens Women’s Aid Federation Annual General Meeting

29 September, 2010 - by Caitríona Ruane

Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has opened the 21st Annual General Meeting of the Women’s Aid Federation.

Speaking at the event at the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast, the Minister said: “I welcome the opportunity to meet with you all and to join representatives from other organisations here to show our support for the vital work that Women’s Aid provides across the north of Ireland.

“Domestic and sexual violence ruins lives and is a blight on our society that must be eradicated. For children, domestic violence can restrict their participation in education and their ability to develop personal ambitions, skills and talents. Barriers to learning such as the distress caused by domestic violence must be tackled proactively to give children the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

“It is thanks to the work of Women’s Aid and other organisations in the public and voluntary sectors that women and their families know where they can turn to for help. However, we must also educate our society that any form of violence is totally unacceptable. There should be zero tolerance of violence against women and children.

“My Department and the wider education sector have an important role to play in educating the adults of tomorrow. Teachers, in partnership with organisations like Women’s Aid, can educate our children that violence inflicted on them, or by them, or witnessed by them, is wrong.

“To deliver these programmes to as many pupils as possible right across the north, my Department continues to fund Women’s Aid £60,000 in the year 2010-2011 to devise a training programme for primary school teachers to develop their capacity to deliver the revised Helping Hands Programme to their pupils.”

The Department of Education is supporting the development of a training package which Women’s Aid trainers will deliver to primary school teachers, to allow them in turn to deliver the Helping Hands programme to their pupils. This will result in the programme being delivered to more primary school pupils than it presently reaches.

The Minister concluded: “I want to congratulate Women’s Aid on the work that it carries out together with the statutory and voluntary sectors to tackle the issue of domestic violence in our society. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers in all of the Women’s Aid groups across the north and wish them well in the very valuable work and support they provide.”

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