This partnership between Newfoundland and Labrador’s only public legal education organization and sexual assault crisis centre is the first of its kind in Canada. Funded by the Department of Justice Canada, the partnership aims to enhance supports and responses for survivors of sexual violence in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly within the justice system. This three-year, multi-component project will consist of a Legal Outreach Coordinator that will conduct outreach, training, and engagement that is provincial in scope and survivor centered. Key deliverables include developing and delivering trauma-informed training to justice system personnel, including lawyers, judges, court staff, and police officers, along with other front-line service providers.
An additional component will involve the implementation of a trauma-informed counseling pilot program through the NLSACPC to help meet the comprehensive needs of survivors. Nicole Kieley, Executive Director of NLSACPC explains, “How the Journey Project collaborates with community partners, engages survivors, and utilizes a trauma informed lens is quite innovative. The voices of survivors will inform every aspect of this multifaceted project. It will also allow us to finally offer process-based counseling, a support model that has been greatly needed and asked for by so many calling our line and reaching out.”
The final component of this project involves focusing on the needs of survivors of sexual violence that are also living with a disability. “It’s key that the Journey Project be inclusive to individuals that experience additional and unique barriers,” explains Kevin O’Shea, Executive Director of PLIAN. “This project acknowledges individuals living with disabilities often face an increased vulnerability to sexual violence yet face more barriers when accessing the justice system”. This component of the project will involve outreach to the disability community and disability serving organizations throughout the province and developing training and supports with a disability inclusion lens. “This lens will ensure that the voices, guidance, and leadership of the disability community has a meaningful impact on all aspects of the project” says O’Shea.
A major needs assessment carried out by the NLSACPC in 2016 with service providers revealed that 84% do not feel there are effective services or adequate supports available for people who have experienced sexual violence. “Survivors of sexual violence in Newfoundland and Labrador presently face multiple barriers and limited supports when interacting with the justice system,” explains Kieley. “This ultimately leads to harmful experiences of re-victimization, isolation, and frustration.” The project will work to enhance and expand the services and responses available to survivors that have entered or are considering the justice system.
The Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador says, “The Department of Justice and Public Safety has identified enhanced support for victims of sexual assault within the justice system as a key priority. We are committed to working with the community to respond to the needs of people who have been sexually assaulted as well as collaborating on trauma-informed outreach and training. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador supports this worthwhile endeavor and believes the initiative will have an incredibly positive impact on survivors of sexual violence in the province.”
“There continues to be a significant need throughout our province for education, training, and outreach related to the experience of survivors of sexual violence within the justice system”, says O’Shea. “We are excited to be partnering with the NL Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre on this major initiative, and also look forward to working with the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and stakeholders from community organizations and the justice system all across the province.
The Public Legal Information Association of NL (PLIAN) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to educating Newfoundlanders and Labradorians about the law. It provides public legal education and information services with the intent of increasing access to justice.
The NL Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre (NLSACPC) provides non-judgmental support and essential services to adults impacted by sexual violence. Its members work toward the prevention and eradication of sexual violence in all forms through training, awareness campaigns and trauma-informed support.
Public Legal Information Association of NL
NL Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre