Additional Provincial Funding to support Neighbours, Friends and Family

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Faculty’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children welcomed community friends and university colleagues on August 10 to share in for an exciting announcement. Deb Matthews, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and MPP for London North Centre, announced additional provincial funding of $622,000 to support Neighbours, Friends and Family, a community outreach program focusing on public education around violence in the workplace.

“We have learned through tragedies…that if the right people knew the right response, we know we could have averted tragedy,” said Minister Matthews, adding “this investment will make a profound difference in the lives of women, children and men in our society.”

“When somebody is at risk and somebody is at danger, not just themselves personally but all of their co-workers as well, you can’t turn your head the other way,” says Barb MacQuarrie, Community Director for CREVAWC.

Although it may be difficult to approach a co-worker about a suspected domestic violence issue, MacQuarrie says it’s vital to get over the stigma of abuse being a private issue. “We have to think differently about privacy and what we have let happen in the name of privacy,” she says.

The Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign is based on the belief that everyone has a role to play in preventing abuse in our communities. What started in 2005 has expanded well beyond the walls of the centre, says MacQuarrie.

“It is a cultural shift. I am starting to see people believe women abuse isn’t a problem that experts deal with. It is a problem we all care about,” she says.

The campaign will also develop a strategy in consultation with disability communities on how to involve people with disabilities, as women with disabilities are 40 per cent more likely to be a victim of abuse, says Matthews.

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants will also be supported by the campaign to connect with recent immigrants.

“The warning signs are often seen in the workplace,” says Peter Jaffe, academic director of the centre, adding the program will also include violence against men.

Some signs a person is being abused are: uncharacteristic behaviour, such as sudden tardiness, poor concentration; missed work days; harassing phone calls; or unexpected visits from a spouse demanding to know his or her partner’s whereabouts; and depression.

“We want employers to be caring and asking questions. Not to be prying into an individual’s personal life, but to be able to reach out and be part of a safety plan,” adds Jaffe.

For more information visit the website at http://neighboursfriendsandfamilies.ca/.

Thanks to Heather Travis, Western News