Network to Eliminate Violence In Relationships Focuses On Relationship Violence At Surrey Forum

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SURREY – The Network to EliminateViolence in Relationships (NEVR) hosteda forum entitled “Breaking DownBarriers: Addressing Violence inRelationships with VulnerablePopulations,” at Kwantlen PolytechnicUniversity’s Surrey campus on October17th.The forum focused on breaking downbarriers that prevent organizations fromworking together on the societal issue ofviolence in relationships.The rates of violence in relationshipshave not decreased, even though theUnited Nations made a declaration toend intimate partner violence in 1993.The most vulnerable populations areAboriginal, immigrant and those withdisabilities or mental health issues. Thedirect costs of medical and social services,court costs and lost income and indirectcosts of pain and suffering of violencein relationships is a staggering$151.9 billion annually in Canada.”I hear from every provincial ministerthat I have spoken with, that the provincedoes not have new money. Therefore,NEVR decided to hold a cross-sectoralforum so we can work together, createsynergy and work on solutions to thishorrific social issue” said conferenceorganizer and NEVR facilitator Dr.Balbir Gurm, KPU, Nursing Faculty.NEVR members include government,police, ministries, health, education andnon-governmental organizations.Honorable Stephanie Cadieux, Ministerof Children and Family Development,who has the Provincial Office ofDomestic Violence in her portfolio, setthe stage for the conference.The Minister noted that this is an issuethat cuts across many ministries, andreminded the audience that 7 ministerswere at KPU earlier in the year and thatgovernment is committed to collaboratingwith stakeholders. She emphasizedthe importance for all sectors to continueto participate in such forums that arefocused on collaborative action.Dr. Patti Jansen, a prominent researcherand Director of UBC’s School ofPopulation and Public Health describedthe policy and public health approach tointimate partner violence. She providedexamples of how collaboration initiativeshave worked in other jurisdictions andemphasized that screening, especially forvulnerable populations, is imperative andthat everyone needs to be able to screenand then provide the appropriate servicesor referrals.Next, Caber, the first trauma K-9 to be apart of the Victim Services in Canada,stole the hearts of the audience whenKim Gramlich Victim ServicesCoordinator, Delta Police described howCaber had been able to open communicationchannels with both victims andoffenders where humans could not. Kimand Caber’s presentation was followed upby a presentation on cultural safety.Dr. Alice Macpherson, KPU Faculty,discussed the need for workers to createculturally safety when working with theirclients. She noted that what we physicallysee are only cues of a person’sbelief system and not necessarily accurate.The audience was encouraged to reflecton their personal biases and assumptionsthat may hinder their relationshipsin working with clients.The afternoon session began with storiesof two survivors and a panel, moderatedby Praveena Giannoulis, LeaderMinister of Children and FamilyDevelopment. Panelist Amman Barmi,Program Manager of Harmony House,2nd Stage Transition House, discussedthe barriers immigrant women face inthe transition house systems. She sharedexperiences clients face when enteringthe system and how the policies andpractices can further victimize the victim.This was followed with an interactivesession with the audience.”It was exciting to witness the passionand desire to move beyond silos,” saidGary Thandi, Executive Director ofGenesis Family Empowerment Society.”I especially loved to hear that peopleare tired of simply talking about theneed to collaborate, and that more tangible,goal-oriented actions are beingplanned.”At the end of the day, Inspector GaryBegg, RCMP, moderated a cross-sectoralpanel to reflect on the day andmake recommendations.The cross-sectoral panel included:Councillor Barinder Rasode, City ofSurrey; Chief Jim Cessford, DeltaPolice; Jan Radford, Atira, and DenisePenaloza, Maxxine Wright; and twofamily physicians, Dr. Jotinder Mannand Dr. Amritpal Arora.The physicians emphasized that everyoneneeds to ask the question andscreen for violence in relationships;Chief Cessford emphasized that weneed to continue to work together andagreed with Inspector Begg that a multidisciplinaryresponse team is needed todeal with the high-risk police calls;Radford and Penaloza shared the collaborationexperience in creating theMaxinne Wright Centre; and CounselorRasode discussed the Rakhi Project anda need to overcome barriers of systems.The largest barrier identified by theforum was information- sharing acrossagencies.”It’s important to hold these cross-sectoralpanels in order to find ways towork together and be creative in ourapproaches to dealing with violence inrelationships” stated Charan Gill, CEOof Progressive Intercultural CommunityServices (PICS) Society. “As one of thefounding members of NEVR, we willcontinue to diligently work towardselimination of violence in relationships.”NEVR will collate the ideas from the conferenceand create a report that will be availablefor the community at www.kpu.ca/NEVR.The NEVR team will collaborate to worktoward decreasing barriers. If you wish to joinNEVR, email [email protected]