WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Jan. 23, 2013) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today attended the opening of the Winnipeg Children's Advocacy Centre, designed to help better serve children and youth that have been victims or witnesses of crime. Minister Nicholson was joined by the Honourable Jennifer Howard, Minister of Manitoba Family Services and Labour.
"I am pleased to be here today for the grand opening of Winnipeg's Children's Advocacy Centre," said Minister Nicholson. "This Centre will play an imperative role in making sure that young victims and their families have access to essential programs and services in order to mitigate further victimization."
Child Advocacy Centres (CACs) aim to minimize the trauma of being a child victim of crime. CACs are a collaborative team of professionals who work in a child-friendly setting to help a child or youth victim or witness navigate the criminal justice system. The work of the CAC staff can greatly reduce the emotional and mental harm to the child.
"Child abuse in all its forms is one of the most traumatic events that happen in many peoples' lives," said Minister Howard. "This centre will bring together, under one roof, a team of professionals to help those children, while at the same time improving the likelihood that abusers will be brought to justice."
Funding was made available for the Winnipeg Children's Advocacy Centre through the Victims Fund, which is administered by the Department of Justice. Funds are available to provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations for programs and services that give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. The Government of Canada has allocated more than $90 million over the past six years for initiatives that benefit victims of crime, including funding for provincial and territorial government programs.
In Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government also committed an additional $5 million over five years for new or enhanced Child Advocacy Centres (CACs), bringing the total federal Government commitment to CACs to $10.25 million.
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BACKGROUNDER : Child Advocacy Centres
A Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) adopts a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims of crime. A CAC seeks to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for a young victim or witness and his or her family.
Professional services offered by a CAC include coordinated forensic interviews, examination of the child by a medical professional, victim advocacy including court preparation and support and trauma counselling. One of the goals of a CAC is to minimize the number of interviews and questions directed at a child, thereby minimizing system-induced trauma.
CACs help children and their families navigate the justice system in a number of ways. These include providing a child or youth with a safe and comfortable environment in which to be interviewed by criminal justice professionals and minimizing the number of interviews. CACs may also provide education and training to justice professionals on best practices for interviewing child victims and witnesses. As an example, interviews recorded by video are an effective method for gathering valuable information that can help both the young victim and the justice system. Ultimately CACs lead to better communication between agencies supporting young victims.
It has been shown that investigations conducted by CACs are cost-effective and can expedite decision making by Crown prosecutors laying criminal charges. Parents whose children receive services from CACs are more satisfied with the investigation process and interview procedures, and those children who attend CACs are generally satisfied with the investigation and are more likely to state they were not scared during the forensic interviewing process.
Backgrounder: Federal Victims Strategy and Victims Fund
Since 2007, when the Government introduced the Federal Victims Strategy, more than $90 million has been committed to respond to the needs of victims of crime. Most recently, in Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government committed an additional $5 million over five years for new or enhanced Child Advocacy Centres, bringing the total Government of Canada commitment to Child Advocacy Centres to $10.25 million.
The objective of the Strategy, which is led by the Department of Justice Canada, is to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice works in close collaboration with other federal institutions, as well as victims, victim advocates, provincial and territorial governments, service providers and others involved in the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice develops policy and criminal law reform, funds various programs to meet the needs of victims of crime, and shares information about issues of importance to victims of crime.
Within the Federal Victim Strategy, the Victims Fund is a grants and contributions program administered by the Department of Justice. Funds are available each year to fund provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations whose projects, activities and operations support the objectives of the Federal Victims Strategy.
The Victims Fund provides funding to projects and activities that:
- enhance victim assistance programs across Canada;
- promote access to justice and participation in the justice system and the development of law, policies, and programs;
- promote the implementation of principles, guidelines, and laws designed to address the needs of victims of crime and articulate their role in the criminal justice system;
- contribute to increased knowledge and awareness of the impact of victimization, the needs of victims of crime, available services, assistance and programs, and legislation; and
- promote, encourage and/or enhance governmental and non-governmental organizations' involvement in the identification of victim needs and gaps in services and in the development and delivery of programs, services and assistance to victims, including capacity building within non-governmental organizations.
More information is available on the Department of Justice Canada's website.