Collaboration toward Action (York Region Centre for Community Safety)
Collaboration toward Action: Building Connections at the York Region Centre for Community Safety
Lead Agency: Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region, Inc. (Family Justice Centre)
Legal Partner: South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)
The project will train York Region front-line staff in the criminal justice system as it relates to domestic violence. This project is based in the new Family Justice Centre of York Region, which will be a community centre providing a variety of services for victims of domestic violence.
Legal Topics for Training
The criminal justice system as it relates to women who have experienced intimate partner abuse is the focus of this legal information training project.
The project will take place within York Region. The target communities include non-English speaking communities based in the southern part of the region, including Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), South and Southwest Asian (Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujrati and Farsi), Russian, and Italian communities. This project will also focus on the rural communities based in the northern part of York Region (i.e. the small hamlets of Zephry, Lemonville, Pefferlaw, Jackson’s Point and Sutton).
The project will provide two tiers of training:
- The first tier of the proposed training will be delivered in a group setting that will allow workers from a range of agencies to share their perspectives and learn together. The training will be provided through a series of seven workshops.
- The second tier of training will be delivered through three face-to-face workshops and will focus on the situation when the person charged is a victim of domestic violence.
Need for Training
Many front-line workers have never had the opportunity to learn how the criminal justice system actually works and what workers do know of the system is often based largely on American television — not the Canadian reality. Front-line workers are very often called on to assist clients, particularly when the client does not speak English or French, or has additional obstacles that come from living in a rural or remote area. Ignorance of the law and the legal system can lead to ineffective, inefficient interventions and actions that can serve to harm the client.
There has been virtually no training in Toronto and the GTA on working with the police and criminal courts when women victims have been charged and are in the process of being prosecuted. Although there have been some preliminary research into the impact and consequences of women being charged, there has been a hesitancy to talk about this issue. This project will be an important breakthrough in a new kind of training, as the information and workbook that is developed can easily be used by other agencies and services.