Emergency Funds Available to Help Victims of Sexual Violence

May 1, 2013

Organizations that provide support for victims of sexual violence are getting some help themselves to deal with recent spikes in demands for services.

The province created a $100,000 Emergency Fund, today, May 1, to ensure organizations across the province have the resources to help those in need.

“The province launched a public education campaign to encourage people who need help to seek help,” said Marilyn More, Minister responsible for the Status of Women. “The campaign is working, and people are reaching out.

“I have been speaking with a number of organizations that provide services to victims of sexual assault. They tell me that emergency funding will help them respond to these people who are in need of help.”

Organizations can request one-time emergency funding based on demonstrating an increased demand for services. The fund will help provide front-line supports to those who need it.

“We are very grateful to the government of Nova Scotia for stepping up and providing the extremely needed emergency funding to sexual assault service providers to better meet the current surge in need and demand for sexual assault services,” said Margaret Mauger, executive director of the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre. “This is definitely a move in the right direction, and timely considering May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”

Community-based organizations that provide services to individuals who have experienced sexual violence are eligible to apply including sexual assault centres, women’s centres, youth groups, transition houses, aboriginal groups and men’s support groups.

“As a Woman’s Centre we are encouraged to hear today’s announcement that funding will be made available to organizations throughout Nova Scotia,” said Wanda Earhart, support worker with the Every Woman’s Centre in Sydney. “It is vital that we as a community can offer support services to victims and provide education and programs to raise awareness, particularly in rural areas of the province. This is a positive step for those coping with issues surrounding sexual assault.”

Beyond the Emergency Fund, the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, will receive $100,000 in one-time funding to assist the organization in dealing with the surge in demand they have experienced in the last month. Avalon serves women in the Halifax Regional Municipality, representing about half the province’s population. Organizations from across the province also reach out to Avalon, when they have reached their capacity or need certain expertise. 

The board and staff of Avalon Sexual Assault Centre are relieved that the government has recognized and responded to needs. 

“We are relieved that the government listened to Avalon Centre. This funding will enable us to better respond in the moment to the current increase in requests for services. However, a longer-term, sustainable strategy is still needed,” said Irene Smith, executive director. “We look forward to working transparently and supportively with government and other community based organizations from across the province to develop a strategic framework for sexual assault services for all of Nova Scotia.” 

Avalon’s requests for counselling have doubled, and they have had a 50 per cent increase in calls. Referrals are coming from clinicians, social workers and other service providers including mobile crisis unit, transition houses. 

“We know there are gaps in services for victims of sexual assault,” said Ms. More. “Later this week, we will be announcing longer-term measures to help fill these gaps, including supporting organizations to build on, and broaden, their collaboration and partnership with each other. Working as a team, we must also consider how to ensure these vital services are provided in all parts of the province.”

Ms. More is co-ordinating provincial action around the issues of sexual violence and bullying in Nova Scotia. She is meeting with community and women’s groups, youth and others to seek their advice.

May is Sexual Assault Awareness month in Nova Scotia. The province is marking the month with community and government partners on Friday, May 3, 11 a.m., at Province House. 

“I would also like to take this opportunity to convey a sincere thank you to the community-based organizations and caring professionals across this province that have tirelessly and passionately worked to address the issues around sexual violence,” said Ms. More. “Your strength, courage, and commitment to addressing sexual violence is to be commended.” 

Events recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month are planned across the province. 

For more information on the Emergency Fund, call 424-8662. More information on where people can turn if they need help is available at http://novascotia.ca .