Programming Responses for Intimate Partner Violence

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Context

Legislation: Protection Against Family Violence Act, 2003 came into force in 2005.

Territorial Action Plan: NWT Family Violence Action Plan.

The Coalition Against Family Violence (CAFV) is a territorial interagency group that brings together individuals, non-government and government departments and agencies to share information and undertake projects.

In 2003 the CAFV submitted A Framework for Action: A Call to Action to the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT). Since that time, the GNWT has worked collaboratively with the Coalition on the implementation of two Action Plans on Family Violence: The GNWT Response to the NWT Action Plan on Family Violence: A Framework for Action (2003-2007) and The Family Violence Action Plan Phase II (2007 – 2012). These action plans had a direct impact on family violence in the NWT.

During the first Action Plan the following goals were accomplished:

  • The Implementation Steering Committee was created, with membership from 5 GNWT Departments including Health and Social Services; Education, Culture and Employment; Justice; the Executive; the Housing Corporation; and 2 CAFV NGO representatives. The purpose of this committee was to ensure that the vision of the Action Plan was carried out.
  • The Protection Against Family Violence Act (PAFVA) was enacted, which included the implementation of a 24 hour crisis line that allows victims to access services under the Act. A public education strategy was implemented to increase public awareness of the Act.
  • Preliminary work was completed for the Yellowknife Interagency Family Violence Protocol. Based on this work, a toolkit for family violence protocol development was compiled to encourage other communities to establish similar protocols.
  • Staff positions dedicated to addressing family violence were created at the GNWT Departments of the Executive and Justice.
  • Best practices research on programs designed for person who choose to abuse their intimate partners was completed, as well as recommendations for next steps in developing such programming in the NWT.

With Family Violence Action Plan Phase II funding, the GNWT focused on stabilizing NWT shelters, enhancing community services and providing programming for high-risk men who use violence. In addition, a competency based curriculum and accompanying facilitator’s guide was developed for shelter workers.

Victim services are available in-person in eight communities in the NWT with telephone outreach contact available to victims in other communities. Services include court accompaniment and preparation, assistance with Victim Impact Statements, information about the criminal justice system, emotional support, referrals and after-hours crisis support.

The RCMP use ODARA to assess risk in all IPV occurrences. Victim services and shelter workers are also trained on ODARA.

Domestic Violence Treatment Options Court

The Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court (DVTO) is a voluntary program designed for low to medium risk offenders. When an accused is charged with an assault that is domestic in nature, and released on a peace officer undertaking, they are directed to report to Probation Services. Their conditions of release and information regarding the DVTO are discussed. At first appearance, the Crown determines eligibility. If the accused is found eligible and wishes to participate in the DVTO, they are referred to Probation Services to undergo a suitability assessment.

If the accused is deemed suitable, a guilty plea must be entered and the individual must participate in and complete an eight week Planning Action Responsibly Toward Non-Violent Empowered Relationships (P.A.R.T.N.E.R.) group program. The groups are mixed gender (both male and female offenders) and are run approximately three times per year in Yellowknife, with between five to nine participants per group. In 2015, the P.A.R.T.N.E.R. program was expanded to the Hay River Region, with programs run in October 2015 and March 2016. Offenders are required to report back to DVTO Court at the midpoint of the program to update the Court on current progress. If a participant is found to not be complying with program requirements, or chooses at any time to withdraw from the program, they are sent back to the Territorial Court.

One unique feature of the DVTO Court is the probation officer’s authority to vary a no-contact condition without having to return to court. Candidates who successfully complete the program have the benefit of the Court taking this into consideration at sentencing.

DVTO sits in Yellowknife, Behchokǫ̀, and Hay River, with services available to residents of nearby communities who are able to travel. In Hay River, services are also provided to clients resident in K’atl’odeeche (Hay River Reserve) and Enterprise. The Court and supporting services are located in Yellowknife and Hay River.

Risk Assessment

SARA is used by Probation Services as part of the suitability assessment for offenders who are being considered for the DVTO.

The group sessions cover four components

1) Understanding the dynamics of both Intimate Partner Violence and Non-Violent Empowered Relationships. Recognizing that the offender is responsible for the choice they make in their relationships; 2) Understanding the impact of the offender’s choice to use violent and nonviolent behaviours; 3) Understanding the beliefs and contributing factors that lead to choosing violence or choosing non-violence; and 4) Committing to non-violence and learning the skills and tools to help the offender make positive, non-violent choices.

Parenting/Effects on child witnesses

Information about the impact of domestic violence on children is incorporated into the program.

‘A New Day’ Pilot Project

‘A New Day’ Healing Pilot Project targets adult men in the medium to high risk range who use violence in their intimate family relationships. The goals of the pilot are to reduce violent behavior and re-offending rates among violent men. This pilot is delivered by the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre in Yellowknife.

Funding

Funding for ‘A New Day’ is provided by the Department of Justice Community Justice and Policing Division on a pilot basis. The current pilot is scheduled to run until December 31, 2016, after which the program will be evaluated.

Structure

The program serves probation-mandated clients as well as clients who are self-referred or referred from Health and Social Services. ’A New Day’ reports back to the referral source through protocols that allow for information sharing.

Treatment

The program is contracted as a 20-week narrative therapy group and includes 4 individual sessions as part of the intake process. The ‘A New Day’ pilot will be evaluated in 2016.

Offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their violence, use positive behaviour, and reflect on what they want in relationships. There is a lot of flexibility within the model based on individual needs. The group covers the following topics: admit abusiveness, admit behaviour was wrong, acknowledge abuse was a choice, recognize effects on partner and children, identify pattern of controlling behaviour, make amends, accept consequences and be accountable.

Parenting/Effects on child witnesses

Information regarding the impact on children of exposure to IPV is incorporated into the group.

Accountability to Victims

There is partner contact and safety planning throughout the offender’s involvement with the programs.

Integrated Case Management Pilot Project

The Government of the Northwest Territories’ Integrated Case Management (ICM) Pilot Project is led by the Department of Justice in partnership with the departments of Education, Culture and Employment, Health and Social Services, as well as the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority and the NWT Housing Corporation. This project is for existing GNWT clients with two or more complex needs who reside in Yellowknife, Dettah, N’dilo and who require supports that do not duplicate existing services. The goal of the ICM pilot is to develop and establish a more coordinated, streamlined approach to service delivery for clients with complex needs in the GNWT by providing the following:

  1. Client access through systems navigation
  2. Identifying barriers and gaps in policy and service delivery through enhanced collaboration and communication
  3. Service delivery through Integrated Service Planning

‘Pathfinders’ work with the clients to access client centered services and individualized service plans and in conjunction the ICM Working Group with representatives of all parties listed. ICM services are not specific to domestic violence or offenders. The ICM pilot is scheduled to end on March 31, 2017.

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