Programming Responses for Intimate Partner Violence

NEWFOUNDLAND/LABRADOR

Context

Legislation: Family Violence Protection Act

Domestic Violence Court: Not currently available.

Provincial Action Plan: Taking Action Against Violence: Violence Prevention Initiative (2006 – 2012)

Taking Action Against Violence is built on the premise that the social and cultural roots of violence are based in gender inequality and that women from diverse backgrounds are especially vulnerable (ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, economic status). The mission and mandate statements do not specifically address therapeutic services for perpetrators, however the guiding principles address enforcement and accountability.

Taking Action Against Violence was led by a committee of Ministers (Health, Community Services, Education, Human Resources, Labour and Employment, Aboriginal Affairs) and was chaired by the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.

Key investments resulting from the plan include public education, operational funding for transition houses and support for community collaboration in the form of Regional Coordinating Committees. There are 10 committees throughout the Province made up of representatives from community-based service providers and justice partners. The Plan also supported the creation of a Community Advisory Committee composed of representatives from organizations working with government and regional coordinating committees to act as a liaison and the conduit of information between government and front-line organizations.

The Justice Minister’s Committee of Violence Against Women meets to discuss issues related to the justice system response to IPV. It is composed of the Justice Minister, justice officials, police agencies and representatives from community groups such as the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, John Howard Society and the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation.

Family Justice Services, the service which assists families in resolving separation and divorce, screen for domestic violence and refer to Victim Services where concerns exist regarding the safety of women and children. Victim Services is mandated to create safety plans or refer to community services as indicated.

Until losing funding in 2013, the Province had a Domestic Violence Court. The Lt. Gov. promised to reinstate the court and expand it to reach more of the Province.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) and the RCMP have designated Domestic Violence Coordinators who are mandated to work collaboratively with community partners.

Risk Assessment

The RNC designated a Domestic Violence Coordinator in 2013. Police use the Family Violence Investigation Report (FVIR) for all domestic violence occurrences. FVIR highlights history of IPV, escalation, victim’s perception of IPV and any aggravating factors that potentially impact the victim’s safety.

Funding

Services for DV offenders referred by probation are provided through the Learning Resource Program (LRP) of the John Howard Society in three locations in the Province - Cornerbrook, St. John’s, and Stevensville. These programs are funded for treatment of court-mandated clients by the Department of Justice. The provincial government subsidizes the “Advanced Education and Skills” program offered by John Howard.

Structure

The John Howard Society receives referrals from Probation and Corrections Canada who assess the offender’s risk using the LSI. The agency also accepts self-referrals from men who wish to access services on a voluntary basis. Every month an assessment of the offender’s progress is completed, addressing needs and risks using the SARA. This report is shared with the referring agency.

In the case of high-risk offenders, a monthly progress report is also shared with the Family Violence Risk Threat Assessment team with the consent of the offender and the victim. The Family Violence Risk Threat Assessment team is comprised of John Howard Society, Victim Services, the RCMP, RNC (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary), the Crown Attorney, and Child, Youth, and Family Services. The team identifies high-risk domestic violence offenders (on bail, just out of jail and on probation) and meets to monitor the offender and to support the victim.

Treatment

All offenders receive the Respectful Relationships program (see British Columbia for a complete description). This program is delivered by probation.

Probation refers moderate to high-risk offenders to the John Howard Society, Learning Resource Program (LRP). Probation shares any previous risk assessments, the offender’s current LSI assessment, any previous recommendations for treatment, and the offender’s criminal history. John Howard Society uses the SARA to determine program needs. With the exception of the Caring Dads program, the LRP is not specifically for IPV offenders. The groups offered are designed to be either moderate or high intensity and are structured to meet the group’s particular needs. In some instances, the agency will provide individual counselling. Groups are based in a cognitive restructuring treatment modality. The core groups are:

Anger Management: a program for moderate-risk and high-risk offenders who have difficulty in managing their anger.

Advanced Education and Skills: The Modular Aptitude Assessment Program consists of basic job readiness skills, resumé writing, and specific job skills obtained through various workshops and work placements.

Caring Dads: See Ontario for program description.

Group for Criminal Behaviour Awareness: is a continuous intake, 20- to 25-week program offered in conjunction with anger management, and designed to target antisocial attitudes and values, pro-criminal associations, substance abuse, and antisocial behaviour patterns.

Sex Offender: The LRP is the treatment program through which secondary-risk assessments are provided for sex offenders.

Maintenance: The Maintenance program supplements group therapy by providing high-risk clients up to 6 additional sessions with a counsellor either during or following completion of a specific program. The objective of maintenance is to develop relapse prevention strategies, reinforce knowledge, skills and positive changes achieved through the group therapy process.

Individual Counselling: For individuals whose needs do not fit into an existing group, the agency offers individual counselling.

Once an offender has completed the program, a discharge report is submitted to the referring agency summarizing the offender's’ progress in the program and making recommendations regarding other programs that may be considered.

Parenting/Impact on child witnesses

Caring Dads (see Ontario for program description). 

Accountability to Victims

Partner contact and partner support are not included as a component of service for either low or moderate-high risk offenders. However, the John Howard Society does work in collaboration with women’s services to ensure that changes related to risk are shared and that victim safety planning is completed. In addition, for high-risk offenders, victim services are included as part of the Family Violence Risk Threat Assessment team.

Integration

The John Howard Society is a member of the Family Violence Risk Threat Assessment team.

Innovation

To address geographical barriers, the agency is exploring the use of video conferencing for IPV and sexual violence treatment and video conferencing for counselling. Video conferencing is also used to conduct suicide risk assessment for high-risk inmates while incarcerated.

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