Today: Thursday, December 14, 2017, 10:48 am (PST)

Province stepping up support for women and children affected by violence

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SURREY: Community organizations working to prevent and respond to violence against women and children will receive immediate one-time funding of $5 million to help reduce waitlists and better meet demand for vital services such as counselling, outreach and crisis support.

“Violence against women hurts everyone and has long-term effects on families and our communities,” said Premier John Horgan. “For too long, community organizations helping women affected by violence have not had the resources and support they need, with gaps in service and growing waitlists for counselling and crisis programs. People in crisis should not have to wait for help. Our government is enhancing supports for women and children affected by violence.”

Victim service and violence-against-women programs throughout British Columbia will share $4 million in one-time grants to better address high demand for programs that help women and children affected by domestic abuse and sexualized violence. Another $800,000 will support inter-agency case assessment teams of police officers, victim service workers, transition house service providers and others who provide victim safety in high-risk domestic violence cases. The remaining $200,000 will be used to enhance education and prevention programs.

“Many worthy organizations have been stretched beyond capacity for years with static budgets despite their growing caseloads and operating costs, and dozens of service providers telling us they’re ready to give up their contracts next year,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. “The grants we’re providing are a stepping stone toward greater certainty and stability for the thousands of women and children who rely on them in some of the most frightening, stressful and dangerous times in their lives.”

Two education and awareness programs will share the $200,000 grant. Be More Than a Bystander is an award-winning program delivered to more than 80,000 high school students and youth to date, through a partnership between the Ending Violence Association of B.C. (EVA BC) and the BC Lions. Violence is Preventable is a free, confidential, school-based violence prevention program for children and youth aged three to 18 years.

“For 25 years, the Surrey Women’s Centre, along with all the dedicated women’s organizations around the province, has been tirelessly meeting women where they are to give them the support they need,” said Alison Brewin, interim executive director of the Surrey Women’s Centre. “This funding means we can reach even more women who need us. We can help women not just survive sexual and domestic violence, but thrive.”

“If we’re to end gender-based violence, we need to ensure those harmed by violence have access to immediate support, risk identification and safety planning,” said Tracy Porteous, executive director, EVA BC. “We also need to hold abusers accountable in ways that help them change their behaviour, and teach young people that violence is never acceptable. The additional funding that government has announced will support all three of these important goals.”

“Children and youth who have experienced domestic violence have their own unique needs and often require specialized service. The BC Society of Transition Houses is really pleased to hear that PEACE Programs across B.C. are receiving some additional funding support,” said Joanne Baker, executive director, BC Society of Transition Houses. “We also know how important it is to prevent violence through education and are happy that these funds will also better the Violence is Preventable Program to be delivered in schools throughout the province.”

Quick Facts:

* Today’s announcement, during the international 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (Nov. 25-Dec. 10), represents an immediate investment in services to victims of violence throughout British Columbia.

* It is a step toward government’s commitment to increase annual funding to support women who experience domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.

* The Province invests more than $70 million annually in services to support victims of crime, including $16.5 million for violence-against-women programs and $32 million for transition house services. The $5 million of one-time grants announced today is over and above this core, annual funding.

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