Council Passes Motion for Mandatory Training for Sabbatical Officers on Mental Health and Sexual Assault


A motion was passed at UCDSU Student Council on Monday night that would make certain training for sabbatical officers mandatory.

The mandate states that “That all elected UCDSU sabbatical officers should receive SAFETALK, ASSIST and Sexual assault disclosure training, exceptions can be made in circumstances where officers do not meet certain criteria of the training.”

The mandate points out that “officers are tasked with a wide range of issues, including student cases, which can be of a sensitive nature.” Before this motion was passed such training was not mandatory for sabbatical officers although many officers have attended such training.

Melissa Plunkett, UCDSU Mature Students Coordinator, who put forward the motion told the University Observer, “I think it’s something that all officers should have.”

SafeTalk training tries to give those who attend the workshop the skills to recognise when someone is in need of help for their mental health. It teaches trainees how to spot if someone is suicidal. The course does not tell you how to deal with suicidal people but recommends that once you spot the signs you pass them on to someone better equipped to handle the situation.

According to, ASIST, which stands for “Applied Suicide Intervention Training,” trains people to help “reduce the immediate risk of suicide and increase the support for a person at risk.” It is not a replacement for counselling or anti-depressants but is described as a “suicide first aid kit.”

Specific training for dealing with sexual assault is not mentioned in the motion. Plunkett says that this is because “there are courses coming up nationally,” but adds “at the moment we are connected with the DRCC so there has been training from them, so it would probably be with them.”

UCDSU Welfare Officer Eoghan MacDomhnaill, speaking to the University Observer via email, says: “We’d support the motion entirely!” He says that he discussed the motion with Plunkett before it was passed.

MacDomnaill says “All sabbats have undergone sexual assault disclosure training with the DRCC.” He adds that all sabbats are SafeTalk trained, apart from President Barry Murphy who was ill on the day of training. MacDomhnaill himself is also ASIST trained.

MacDomnhaill and Plunkett agree that this training should also be provided to RAs and SRAs. Plunkett says “I think it’s a big responsibility for UCD to expect students to come in and take care of the population on res without any training.” She acknowledges that SRAs do receive some similar training. MacDomhnaill says that “the union offered to provide sexual assault disclosure training for SRAs through the DRCC” but “they were not available to attend on the training on the given dates.”