October 18, 2010 - Today, the Minister of Health and Social services highlighted two initiatives that the Department of Health and Social Services has spearheaded with the Coalition Against Family Violence as part of the NWT Family Violence Action Plan Phase II.
Mr. Speaker, family violence is a deliberate use of force to control another person. Abusers do not just lose their tempers or simply have problems with anger management. They choose to hurt and control their victims.
Family violence is a community issue. It takes a community response. I would like to highlight two initiatives that the Department of Health and Social Services has spearheaded with the Coalition Against Family Violence as part of the NWT Family Violence Action Plan Phase II.
Mr. Speaker, the first is the recent release of “Supporting Northern Women”. This curriculum is a sustainable, in-house training resource for front-line shelter workers. It is also useful to any professional working with clients who have experienced family violence. Developing this curriculum took a collaborative effort between non-government organizations and government to build capacity for shelter workers across the NWT. Our shelters provide emergency housing, safety planning, and help with applications for emergency protection orders. Because of them, women and children have a safe place to live while they think about what their next best step is.
Mr. Speaker, the second initiative that I would like to draw your attention to is the recent work undertaken by the Yellowknife Interagency Family Violence Protocol Committee. This committee works to develop a more coordinated response to adult victims of family violence and is made up of representatives from various government departments and front-line service provider agencies.
Mr. Speaker, in 2009 the committee began to implement the use of the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment in family violence cases, known as ODARA. ODARA is a very simple to use risk assessment tool that calculates whether a man who assaulted his female partner will assault her again in the future. It is useful in safety planning with women and can be used during bail hearings and court processes. ODARA allows service providers from a wide variety of backgrounds to talk about risk in the same way. They can make more consistent and informed decisions about the best way to help clients. Strong leadership is important to this project. Since 2009, 99 front-line workers, 140 RCMP members and 17 Crown Prosecutors from across the NWT have been trained to use ODARA. Another train-the-trainer session will be held later this month. This tool will also be useful with other initiatives that are being developed, like the program for men who use violence.
Family violence is a serious matter. It is important for all of us to send the message that it is not acceptable. It does not happen by accident. Abusive people know exactly what they are doing. We need to treat family violence as deliberate. Wellness is a goal identified under our strategic document “A Foundation for Change”, more specifically increasing supports and services for people who experience family violence.
I am pleased with the work that is being done to fight family violence. I know we are on the right track and are making a real difference in the lives of victims and their families.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302