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Manitoba Government News Release–The Manitoba government is providing $30,000 to support the creation of online mental health and addictions training for domestic violence staff, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Cathy Cox, Families Minister Rochelle Squires and Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.

“Our government is dedicated to listening and working together with our community partners to help Manitobans transition out of vulnerable situations, to lead healthier and safer lives for themselves, their children and their families,” said Cox. “Domestic violence occurs in every community, affecting people of all ages, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion and nationality; this month provides us the opportunity to reflect on the challenges that remain and to recognize we all have a role to play in protecting our most vulnerable community members.”

The announcement, made as the province marked November as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is part of the Manitoba government’s ongoing commitment to provide supports to better meet the needs of vulnerable citizens.

The Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters (MAWS) will receive the $30,000 grant to support the development and delivery of a virtual mental health and addictions training program for domestic and family violence agencies. The province funds 30 such agencies across Manitoba, offering emergency crisis shelters, women’s resource centres, and second-stage and specialized programs.

“The experience of domestic violence is traumatic, while survivors deal with the trauma, they also have to consider dealing with police, acquiring protection orders, worrying about their children’s safety, acquiring safe housing and ensuring income security,” said Squires. “Experiences with mental health issues and substance use compound the stress during an already difficult time.”

“Working with domestic violence staff for mental health and addictions training is a significant step to help survivors deal with the trauma of domestic violence,” said Gordon. “In consultation with Manitobans from across the province, we heard many survivor accounts. It is these consultations that are helping develop an integrated, whole of government five year action plan road map to address a spectrum of service planning, funding and policy work that is driven by data and evidence.”

The new funding will help fill a gap in existing services by responding to requests from agencies for additional training in mental health and substance use. This improves capacity to provide holistic prevention and intervention services, while also helping to connect survivors with other supports throughout the health-care, mental health and addictions systems.

“On behalf of our board, I would like to thank the province for their funding of this project,” said Deena Brock, provincial co-ordinator, MAWS . “ We are proud to be working with the University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work and RESOLVE to develop this much-needed training program for the gender-based violence sector day operations and 24/7 residential staff in Manitoba. Women’s shelters and gender-based violence prevention service providers have identified gaps in staff knowledge regarding the intersections between mental illness, substance use dependence and family violence. This course will provide more robust training to staff who support clients presenting with complex and diverse needs.”

MAWS and a working group of individuals representing the family violence sector have worked together to find a suitable partner to co-design and develop the online training program. A call for proposals resulted in the selection of RESOLVE and the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Social Work. RESOLVE is a community-based research network operating in the Prairie provinces, engaging in research and education aimed at reducing the incidence and impact of family and gender-based violence.

“RESOLVE is pleased to partner with the University of Manitoba Faculty of Social Work and MAWS on this valuable initiative to support the work of the family violence sector,” said Kendra Nixon, RESOLVE director and associate professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Manitoba. “RESOLVE is a Prairie-based research network that co-ordinates and supports research aimed at ending gender-based violence, especially violence against women and girls. We are looking forward to working closely with our partners on this online training program as a way to develop tangible solutions for reducing the incidence and impact of gender-based violence in our communities.”

“It is important for staff who are the point of first contact for women at a particularly vulnerable time, to access current knowledge of the multiple and overlapping impacts of trauma, mental health issues and substance use,” said Kathryn Levine, associate professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba. “This program will incorporate evidence-informed approaches to practice that will facilitate the provision of services that are responsive to women’s needs.”

Ensuring women in vulnerable positions have access to these services is part of Manitoba’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice to invest in accessible mental health, trauma and addictions services.

This project is funded through the Canada-Manitoba Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions Services Funding Agreement. The virtual training program is expected to be available in early 2022.

Cox noted today’s announcement builds on other work to address domestic violence in Manitoba, including:

  • introducing a pilot project to better support families experiencing domestic violence, with specialized staff from Manitoba Justice co-located at Winnipeg Police Service headquarters to facilitate a more co-ordinated response;
  • expanding the Domestic Violence Support Service to provide enhanced support to victims whose current or former partners are involved in restorative justice proceedings;
  • launching the Family Resolution Service, which provides trauma-informed support to families going through separation and divorce;
  • ensuring government participation in the Winnipeg and Area Community of Practice on Family Violence to enhance support to survivors of violence through the family law system by increasing opportunities for family law practitioners to acquire training, guidance and resources to support trauma-informed practice, and to improve co-ordination of services;
  • working with stakeholders including families, communities, social service providers, the legal community, academia and the not-for-profit sector to implement the Family Law Modernization Action Plan; and
  • introducing an online family violence awareness course for Manitoba government employees and other front-line staff around the province.

In addition, restorative justice workers with Manitoba’s Victim Services Domestic Violence Support Service will be introducing a new roundtable discussion group, called Gathering to Respect Our Worth ( GROW), to help victims of domestic violence gather to share information in a positive, relaxed and safe environment, which offers respect, trust and a chance to empower each other. Each gathering will offer a new topic of discussion, which also provides an opportunity to connect with one’s own wisdom and to learn from the wisdom of others.

For more information about victim services, visit www.gov.mb.ca/justice/vs/.