Violence prevention plan includes court expansion, new research on sex trade
The Newfoundland and Labrador government revealed a four-year action plan Tuesday to prevent violence against at-risk populations.
Many of the 67 actions that the province said will be implemented at a cost of $9.5-million involve increasing public awareness, addressing violence against aboriginal women and children and continuing with violence awareness and education.
The plan is an extension of the Taking Action Against Violence campaign that was launched in 2006. Premier Paul Davis said the update is meant to be broad in scope.
"Violence doesn't just exist in centres like St. John's or Corner Brook," Davis said at a news conference to launch the action plan. "It exists throughout our province and these strategies had to be far reaching. Not just in the urban centres, but also to rural and remote communities, to small towns, to every family and every household."
Davis said a second family violence intervention court is being established in Stephenville and should be open within a few weeks.
It was announced in the spring budget that the St. John's court would be reinstated and a second court would be created.
An increased need
Nicole Keiley, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, said her group has eagerly awaited this plan.
Keiley said the centre's helpline is swamped.
"Last year we received 1,500 calls, 370 of which were crisis related. That's over a call a day. And what we really know, is that over the last two years, the operations of our line have absolutely tripled. We know that there's increased need and there's more complexities to sexual violence."
Keiley said the increased volume of calls shows education and outreach programs are working.
Now the centre will be combing through the province's plan and looking for action.
"Everything from funding, resources and the commitments that are going to be needed to really bring forward this strategy, said Keiley.
Sex trade report
The province will also conduct a research study into violence against sex trade workers by next year.
In addition, Davis said government would work in conjunction with its four health boards to support victims of sexual violence.
As part of the action plan, a new grant focused on engaging aboriginal men and boys in the prevention of violence will be created with $30,000 of government funding.
According to numbers in Working Together for Violence Free Communities: An Action Plan for the Prevention of Violence in Newfoundland and Labrador 2015-2019, 46,830 violent crimes were reported against adults between 2006-2014.
In the same time period, 13,273 violent crimes were reported against children across the province.
Before Davis announced the new plan, he extended condolences to Larry Wellman's family.
Wellman was shot after trying to intervene in an armed robbery at the Captain's Quarters Hotel in St. John's Saturday night.
Davis urged others not to intervene in similar situations.