Better-coordinated supports for victims, more public education and awareness, and continued community engagement on prevention are among the approaches in Nova Scotia’s first sexual violence strategy.
Premier Stephen McNeil and Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard launched Breaking the Silence: A Coordinated Response to Sexual Violence in Nova Scotia, today, June 16, in Kentville.
“Sexual violence is a traumatic and pervasive problem in all of society and our province is no exception,” said Premier McNeil. “This strategy calls on Nova Scotians to work together to better understand and prevent sexual violence in our communities.”
Some of the actions planned over the next two years include:
— Helping people get urgent support faster through existing crisis lines, online and other new technologies
— Expanding the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program in Sydney and western Nova Scotia
— Creating nine community support networks to coordinate counselling and support, visibility of services and help with navigation
— Establishing a prevention innovation fund to support best practices, research and evaluation
“We promised Nova Scotians we would listen, and we did. In year one we engaged with over 1,000 Nova Scotians, and what we heard will set our direction as work on the strategy continues,” said Ms. Bernard. “We need to keep these conversations going and make sure we reach out to people whose voices need to be heard.”
“Living in a rural area can create barriers, but with our partners, the Red Door Youth Health and Support Centre is able to support youth, women, men, children and the LGBTQ community,” said Tara Newcombe, co-chair of the centre. “We recognize the importance of engaging youth to truly shift the current culture of sexual violence. In addition, inviting youth to voice their thoughts on how to improve support services will inform our local demonstration project as well as the larger provincial sexual violence strategy.”
Last December, government released a summary of what Nova Scotians said during meetings and through an online survey. In April, a summary of youth engagement responses was also released.
This month, two provincial committees on training and public awareness have been appointed. A new provincial specialist has been hired to coordinate the work on the strategy.
For more information on the strategy and for a list of services for victims of sexual violence, visit http://novascotia.ca/coms/svs/ .