COMMUNITY SERVICES: Hundreds offer input to help shape Sexual Violence Strategy Plan

(December 11, 2014) More than 800 Nova Scotians shared their perspectives to help shape an action plan for the province's first sexual violence strategy.

The input helped identify key areas for improving services and supports for victims and families, where current gaps exist, and a need for more public awareness and education on the issue of sexual violence.

"We were encouraged by the volume of respondents," said Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard. "We have heard from Nova Scotians who have been impacted by sexual violence and from those who are interested in this issue and want to make a positive difference. We are taking this opportunity to share what we heard as we move forward with engagement and implementation strategies."

A key finding was that despite the good work of service providers, people do not know where to turn to get the support they need. Services are not accessible, visible or inclusive. There is also strong feedback about the need to improve co-ordination of providing services and supports across the province to victims and families.

"Ending and preventing sexual violence is a collective responsibility that will require the efforts of all Nova Scotians," said Ms. Bernard. "We're committed to continued engagement with the community to develop a provincewide response, where victims and survivors, and their families, can get the help they need and our society works to prevent sexual violence."

Meetings were held with over 60 representatives from more than 40 community groups and organizations to gain insights and guidance. Efforts are continuing with youth engagement to ensure their voices are heard.

Work began in April to develop Nova Scotia's first provincial sexual violence strategy, which will be available in 2015.

"This involves changing attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours and requires a commitment from all of us," said Ms. Bernard. "We have heard that we need to work better together. We are committed to doing better."

The findings are available at http://novascotia.ca/coms/svs/what-we-heard/.

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