The Halifax Chronicle Herald
April 26, 2012 – 2:45pm By DAN ARSENAULT Crime Reporter
Nova Scotia’s crime victims are getting $2.35 million in programs from the federal government, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced at Halifax’s IWK Health Centre on Thursday morning.
Most — $2 million — will go to the provincial government over the next five years for programs to support victims of crime and the remaining $350,000 will go to create a Child Advocacy Centre in Halifax. Central Nova MP Peter MacKay and provincial Justice Minister Ross Landry also took part in the announcement.
The IWK will use the $350,000 to set up the Child Advocacy Centre. They may investigate methods to create similar satellite centres throughout the Maritimes, Nicholson said. The centre will help young victims and witnesses get treatment, counselling, court preparation and other services.
The $350,000 will be used in “development work” to create the child’s advocacy centre, said Dr. Amy Ornstein of the IWK’s child protection team. It will be the first such centre in Atlantic Canada and is intended to ease the stress and pain faced by young victims.
Community Services workers will direct young clients toward the program, she said. A major change compared to the existing situation, is that joint investigations – conducted by social workers, police and others – will all be done at the centre, she said.
“The child and family will only have to come to one place and that place is a child-friendly setting where the child will feel safe. They won’t be interviewed in a police station … a hospital emergency department. They will become familiar with the centre as well.”
Advocates will be assigned to each child to ensure they are aware of available help, court dates and so on, she said.
Asked if $350,000 was enough to make much of a change, she said, “It’s a kick-start to the project. We’re going to maximize what we can get out of that.”
Gathering more information could enable them to access more money in the future, she said.
“We want to have room for growth,” she said.
The $2 million for the provincial Justice Department is intended to assist victims navigate the justice system to ensure their voices are heard, Nicholson said, adding that it can be a “very difficult chore” for victims and witnesses to crime. The federal government is doling out $11.6 million in the program nationwide.
“We’ve always made the protection of law-abiding Canadians among our top priorities,” he said. “We believe that victims deserve to have a strong and effective voice in the federal justice and corrections system.”
The investment is intended to promote victims’ access to the justice system, promote policies to address victims’ needs and study the impact of victimization, among other things.
Funding for young victims of crime in Halifax gets boost
26 April 2012
Being a victim is bad enough, but when the system fails children, it makes it even worse.
“For young victims, navigating the justice system can be frustrating, frightening and a difficult experience,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay. “Scars are compounded if they feel the system has also failed them.”
At the IWK Health Centre’s auditorium Thursday morning, Federal Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson announced $350,000 seed money for Halifax to start up a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.
Currently, children who have lived through violence and abuse bounce between independent agencies like police, mental health counseling and others.
A CYAC would be a one-stop centre where child victims and their families will have a “quarterback” who will lead them through the entire process, from giving a police statement to testifying in court, said Amy Ornstein, a pediatrician on the IWK’s Child Protection Team.
“The fundamental principle is the child and family will only have to come to one place and that place is a child friendly setting where the child will feel safe,” Ornstein said. “For example, they won’t be interviewed in a police department or a hospital emergency department.”
There are over 1,100 of these centres in the United States but only a handful in Canada, Ornstein said. This will be the first for Atlantic Canada and is scheduled to be open by the fall of 2013.
Hundreds of children a year are expected to use it every year. The $350,000 will be spent on a business case, site studies and set up. After that the centre’s managers will have to establish funding.
The CYAC won’t be located at the IWK as some children might have negative associations of it if they came there for medical treatment, Ornstein said.