"Creating a Framework for the Wisdom of the Community:" Review of Victim Services in Nunavut, Northwest and Yukon Territories
The following recommendations for improvements in victim support and services comes from the service providers, victims of crime, program administrators, caregivers and funders interviewed during this research process. These are all listed in Appendix A, except for the names of the victims of crime who were interviewed; their names are not included.
"We need an aggressive public awareness campaign about trauma, sexual assault, family violence and victim’s issues that is as aggressive as the drunk driving and anti-smoking campaigns have been … with saturation for health, education, judicial and wellness systems.
"Not many older people access the services … we may need more education targeted to that age group … we rarely see more than one senior at Victims Services in one year … we need to educate nurses, family doctors and seniors’ homes on how to assist seniors.
"Good role modeling by older people … less community tolerance for bush parties and alcohol consumption.
"We need youth role models and substance free events.
"People with post-traumatic stress seek out what is familiar … they can’t cope with the anxiety of saying no to the perpetrator … to validate the victim it requires a strong, harsh community sanction, a Band Council resolution … it takes the whole community to say ‘no, you can’t do this to our kids.’
"We need far greater natural support systems in First Nation and non First Nation communities … build communities where we take care of each other.
"One of the partnerships I would like to see and would honour very much with my male counterparts is a partnership in stopping violence here in the territory … it’s a men’s issue also.
"Men could organize to create a shelter for the many homeless men and male victims of violence in the community …nobody’s stopping them from doing that kind of work.
"There’s an obvious need for more public education and for respectful and informed debate … we need to develop respect for differences in our community.
As noted earlier, respondents feel that uninformed and anti-victim public attitudes are amongst the biggest challenges they face in victim service delivery. Many respondents used the word "aggressive" when talking about the type of intensive public education needed to change these attitudes and stop family violence and sexual assault in the territory. Several people referred to the successful public education campaign of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), pointing to the noticeable impact their campaign had on societal levels of impaired driving.
Alongside intense public education campaigns, respondents see a real need to build stronger and more cohesive communities that don’t tolerate abuse towards any community member. Towards that end, they recommended the following:
- encourage Band Council and First Nations resolutions which clearly say "No" to spousal assault, sexual assault and child abuse;
- encourage the promotion of respected elders and youth as role models;
- deliver intensive education programs on victimization and trauma for people working in the health, education, judicial and wellness systems;
- provide an increased public awareness, and educational, focus on the realities of elder, child and male victimization;
- encourage community men to take leadership on violence against women, working with women’s groups and establishing a zero tolerance social norm amongst all community men;
- establish regular substance free social and recreational events; and
- engage in respectful public community debate around the community’s social problems.
"First Nations people deserve a lot of credit for acknowledging the problem, taking responsibility and asking for help … First Nations know what they need … the Committee on Abuse in Residential Schools (CAIRS) and the First Nation treatment programs are great and need to be supported and these types of services increased.
"We need to subsidize counselling services that aren’t covered for women seeking services outside of Yukon Family Services Association, which is subsidized through the government and cheaper than a private counsellor.
"We need additional resources for Yukon Family Services to recruit more staff to meet all the counselling needs.
"Public health nurses should spend a lot more time in the first 2 years with families with newborns at risk and the Child Development Centre needs more money … too much of the money goes into the back end of the system (adults in jail, adolescents in group homes) … we need more services at the front end.
"We need access to current statistical information … the Statistics Branch does not regularly compare women and men … they collect data but don’t divide it out and publish it … the Statistical Profile of Yukon Women should be updated with data from the 2000 census and Yukon collected information.
"There’s not enough space at the transition house to help women in trauma but not in immediate danger … their spouse may be in jail, so they are ‘safe,’ but they need support and we can’t help them with an intake because we’re full.
"Clinical supervision for workers isolated in rural communities and debriefing support where people are dealing with high levels of abuse … we need a mentoring process for counsellors.
"We need ongoing funding … not writing proposals all the time … it boils down to money … we have so little money.
"Governments support project funding and that’s not always what’s needed … there needs to be ways to support continuing the things that do work.
"We need agreement on core competencies and protocols around case management.
"Better professional standards and a greater depth of knowledge is needed for working with children.
"The Alcohol and Drug Secretariat needs a more adequate facility, it’s institutional and not conducive to people feeling welcomed and respected … men have access to the women’s rooms for the residential treatment component … there should be separate good space for women in gendered addictions programs.
"We need to share resources between departments and agencies.
"People do need to evaluate their programs … it should be mandatory … people do get complacent and don’t stay abreast of current research.
"Families have to take time off to get counseling 9 to 5 … we need to offer counseling services in evenings and weekends.
Service providers pointed out during interviews that many excellent services are already in place in Yukon. However, most of these programs need more staff, improved facilities and other resources, including stable funding, in order to truly meet their mandate. The following detailed recommendations were made by survey respondents:
- provide greater support, resources, funding and training for First Nations healing and trauma recovery programs and hire more First Nations professionals in government service delivery;
- develop more publicly subsidized counselling services with flexible hours of service;
- develop shared program standards amongst agencies that include core competencies and protocols around confidentiality and case management;
- acquire more appropriate facilities for residential intervention and treatment programs and large First Nation healing programs;
- provide increased recreational options for young people;
- give public health and agencies working with young children the resources to support moms and newborns in high risk situations;
- fund more shelter space and/or appropriate resources for women dealing with long-term traumatic issues;
- provide statistical data by gender and regularly update it;
- provide increased support to community-based service providers working with victims, including mentoring, debriefing and clinical supervision;
- provide ongoing, rather than yearly, funding to non-government service providers dealing with victimized people;
- encourage and design ways for agencies and government departments to share resources more effectively;
- develop increased services, with professional standards, for victimized children, elders and men; and
- do ongoing evaluations of all territorial service providers.
"Aftercare needs to be improved … people will come asking for shelter if they are afraid that they are going to get violent.
"We need a commitment to women’s shelters in all Yukon communities and we need Stopping the Violence counsellors in every community and each shelter.
"We need services available during crisis hours: 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
"We need a 24-hour professionally staffed crisis line for support, referral and intervention to deal with crisis calls … a 1-800 line that is territory wide to deal with violence, suicide, sexual assault, homelessness and self-harm.
"We need a Sexual Assault Centre with trauma support
"We need another facility like Kaushee’s Place only larger to accommodate women from the communities.
"We need mandatory treatment for violent offenders.
"More resources in outlying communities for responding to the disclosures of abuse coming forward … we need access to services in communities … look at the level of trauma for the victims.
"There needs to be a visitation/access centre for supervised visits of children with parents they are not living with … there are too many high-risk situations where you need a healthful place to drop off and pick up children.
"We need to look at long-term service for some victims.
"We hear often from First Nations women that there needs to be a healing centre or a personal wellness centre to deal with historic sex abuse issues, racism and Aboriginal culture and healing, etc.
"We need to find ways to support communities in the way they want … we need to build constructive relationships with self-governing First Nations.
"We really need to concentrate on early intervention … we spend so much time trying to fix the problem after the fact … work with schools and the Healthy Families Program and get in there with more early intervention … when they’re in grades 1 and 2, that’s where you get the most value for your intervention.
"Youth like talking to their peers … they prefer to talk to someone who understands, listens and pays attention to youth.
"Training and networking with youth in all Yukon communities.
"We need a facility for youth who are not in care … a temporary emergency shelter for youth where they can have showers and a place to stay when they’ve got nowhere else … it should deal with homelessness and job training … youth can only stay there if they’re trying to improve themselves and be successful in their lives.
"Multiple treatment experiences which are school- based, or in groups, counselling or wilderness experiences, they can possibly have a cumulative effect … we need to do more for our kids … it appalls me that our communities have given up on our kids.
"We need a shelter for men and for transients.
"We need to make additions to the school curriculums in the areas of bullying, anger, violence and sex offences.
"We need publicly funded, free-of-charge, feminist-based therapies for survivors of abuse.
"There are no survivor groups out there … survivors need one-to-one support and also need to see that they are not alone … they need ongoing support networks with individual therapists available to respond when needed.
"The Child Abuse Treatment Services needs taxi fare money and childcare so moms can be available for intake with their children … their pay is low and they don’t have clinical supervision.
"We need a social worker at the hospital that can do outpatient work … they need bridge work to the community … the social worker begins to uncover problems when they’re in for something else and those patients need support when they leave.
"We need a specialized social worker for older persons.
"Agencies need to look at the community development component of their mandates and ask ‘How do we do outreach? How do we provide aftercare and connect people to each other?’… develop a community response to alcohol, addictions and violent behaviour.
"We need a Victims Services office and worker in our town, not coming from Whitehorse.
Survey respondents gave more recommendations in the area of new programs and services than in any other area. All these areas are reflected in the quotes above, although these comments are not the sum total of comments made about needed services. Recommendations for new services and programs are listed below in roughly the order of priority they were given by respondents.
- provide a 24-hour, professionally staffed, and Yukon wide, toll-free crisis line to deal with issues of spousal assault, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, historic abuse, suicide, child victimization, etc.;
- develop a Sexual Assault Centre for the Yukon;
- increase community-based services for victims, including a women’s shelter in each community, a Stop the Violence counsellor in each community, a youth peer support program, Victim Services, family support, sex offender treatment and early intervention programs in each community;
- encourage all agencies to take a community development approach to victim recovery, improving their outreach, aftercare and community response programs;
- provide more residential treatment options, and healing centres, some exclusively for First Nations, some for victims, others for offenders and communities;
- develop adequate and appropriate aftercare programs for people leaving various forms of residential treatment and healing experiences, including a halfway house;
- make more services, crisis intervention and counselling services in particular, available during non-business hours;
- develop more programs that are sponsored in cooperation with First Nations service providers and build working relationships with First Nation healing programs;
- design school curriculums that address the issue of interpersonal violence and healthy sexuality;
- provide survivor groups for victims of assault;
- give greater financial support to the Child Abuse Treatment Services;
- hire a hospital social worker responsible for post-hospitalization outreach;
- hire more social workers who specialize in the care of the elderly;
- provide more youth recreational programming and an emergency shelter for youth;
- provide a shelter for victimized and transient men;
- make treatment mandatory for all offenders;
- provide another larger shelter in Whitehorse for chronically traumatized women;
- find an appropriate place for children to have supervised visits with non-custodial parents;
- provide free feminist counsellors for abused women; and
- recognize and plan for the long-term care of some victimized individuals.
-  MADD has helped reduce drunken driving related deaths by 40 percent since it’s founding in 1980. See www.madd.ca.
-  The need for increased community-based services was expressed most strongly by community-based service providers and caregivers outside Whitehorse. Service providers who do outreach to communities were also convinced that more services need to be available at the community level.
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