↗ Government has shown leadership with anti-violence programs to support Aboriginal women, including steps towards a domestic violence treatment program, and an Aboriginal coordinator to provide cultural recognition in Social Services and support to aboriginal communities.
↗ A new Attorney General’s Office policy on Management of High Risk Offenders (effective October 2008) helps identify and ensure coordinated case management approaches to high-risk domestic violence situations.
↗ We were pleased to see that women’s emergency shelters will be exempted from changes to the Smoke Free Places Act. This will help protect women who have sought shelter from intimate partner violence.
→ The Province has established a $50,000/year training fund to complement training budgets of the municipal police departments, and there’s continued priority on family violence as a provincial priority for policing by the RCMP under the provincial policing services contract. However, we continue to hear mixed reviews of the frequency, adequacy, content, and effectiveness of police training.
→ The Seniors’ Secretariat has been active in raising awareness of elder abuse and ensuring preventing this abuse is a priority. Last year’s focus on caregiver stress during World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was good. It remains unclear if the particular causes and effects of violence against women are recognized as a particular and ongoing focus of elder abuse strategies.
→ The recently released Disability Services Review includes recommendations to address the need for training for service providers and persons with disabilities in the area of family violence and the need to provide training to Family Violence Prevention service providers on disability issues. However, the Review effectively ignores gender as a special consideration, despite the staggering risk of violence women with disabilities face. The Review states that violence “is a potential risk for all people with disabilities.” This is true, and general measures are important, but we hope that when government acts on the Review, they will consider measures for women in particular.
→ There is great potential for effective new investment in preventing violence. As suggested above, this funding would be best placed in core funding to community organizations that already exist and that already place a high value on being inclusive and meeting the needs of a diverse population. Targeted programs can make an important difference for groups with unique needs. Some groups that continue to be underserved in our province include young women, especially those between 16 and 18 years old who fall between cracks in the system; immigrant women, especially those who face language and cultural barriers; and same-sex couples. More investment in piloting prevention programs that focus on intervening with abusers to have them change their behaviour and take responsibility for violence could also make a difference for many victims of violence.
This is an excerpt from the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women 2009 Equality Report Card for PEI, released in June 2009 and based on information updated to May 30, 2009.