COMMUNITY SERVICES: Sexual Violence Strategy progress report

Government released a progress report on the work of the province's first sexual violence strategyon Wednesday, August 3. The report, which covers activities from the launch of the strategy in June 2015 to spring 2016 shows that people and community groups from one end of the province to the other have participated in the strategy.

"This has been a very exciting year. One thing we heard loud and clear when developing Breaking the Silence, was that community involvement had to be at the centre of any efforts to deal with sexual violence in Nova Scotia," said Joanne Bernard, Minister of Community Services. "We agree, and I'm happy to say that communities have jumped right in. Hopefully more people will see this as their strategy, not just government's."

Actions in partnership with communities over the last year include:

  • creation of community support networks
  • creation of a sexual violence strategy training committee
  • creation of a sexual violence strategy public awareness committee
  • $1.25 million in Community Support Network Grants
  • professional development sessions for 211 and 811 employees
  • $650,000 in Prevention Innovation Grants
  • hosting a Mi'kmaq community engagement gathering

The strategy's training committee has been meeting monthly for over a year to develop widely accessible online training. They have incorporated a critical analysis of the root causes of sexual violence such as sexism, racism and homophobia.

"Because sexualized violence is so prevalent, it is of vital importance that organizations and individuals have access to training that both addresses the root causes and provides practical, evidence-based information on how to support victims and survivors," said Dee Dooley, youth programs co-ordinator at YWCA Halifax and volunteer member of the training committee.

"The hope is that this training will be widely used and, in turn, positively impact victims and survivors of sexualized violence by reducing secondary wounding and retraumatization when accessing supports."

An interdepartmental committee is reviewing government policies and procedures related to sexual violence. The committee may make recommendations to ensure those policies work better together when responding to sexual violence.

Upcoming work under the strategy includes the launch of an awareness campaign in the fall, a second round of applications for Prevention Innovation Grants, and the expansion of sexual assault nurse examiner services in eastern and western Nova Scotia.

The strategy's progress report can be found at http://novascotia.ca/coms/svs/

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