Mr. Speaker, in cooperation with the judiciary, the Department of Justice has been supporting specialized courts in Yellowknife since 2011. Specialized courts and their programs provide offenders with an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and get the support that they need to lead healthier lives for themselves and their families.
Today I want to advise Members that in April the Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court, was expanded to Hay River. The DVTO Court, as it is known, is now available for offenders from Hay River, Enterprise and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the judiciary for leading the way in the expansion of DVTO Court to the South Slave. As a result the Department is now able to extend related services to these communities, in collaboration with the RCMP and Health and Social Services.
Like the DVTO Court in Yellowknife, offenders must accept responsibility for their actions and be willing to participate in the eight-module PARTNER program to learn how to change their behaviour. Each person remains under court supervision and will return for sentencing by the DVTO judge at the end of the program.
Mr. Speaker, we must take every opportunity possible to reduce the violence that is so destructive to our families and the personal well-being of individuals. The DVTO Court in Hay River, and the PARTNER program that supports it, work with low-risk offenders to break the cycle of domestic violence. We hope to see very positive results.
I would like to advise Members that we have also very recently expanded our Parenting After Separation workshop delivery to communities outside Yellowknife. This program assists parents before they ever make it as far as the court system. People whose marriage is breaking down can often be confused, frustrated or angry. This is frequently compounded when children are involved. The free workshop we have been offering parents for some time helps them make positive transitions through separation or divorce. Difficult issues are discussed and assistance offered for constructive resolutions. This assistance makes this difficult process easier for parents and their children.
On May 28th, the first Parenting After Separation workshop was offered in Behchoko and in Hay River on May 29th. More workshops will be scheduled to meet local interest and demand. The Department also has plans to begin offering this workshop in Fort Smith, Inuvik and Norman Wells in the fall of 2015.
Mr. Speaker, the Department has taken the time to make sure that these programs are effectively meeting the needs of offenders and families. We are pleased that we now have the experience, in addition to the support of the judiciary and other partners, to serve more communities. We support this Assembly’s vision of strong independent people who are safe and secure in their communities. We will continue to provide programming as effectively and efficiently as possible, ensuring that everything is in place for successful outcomes.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.