Minister of Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef announced more than $3 million in federal funding to support survivors of gender-based violence in the Lower Mainland, including $600,000 for Surrey’s DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey group gets $600K to help abused immigrant, refugee women

Part of a $3-million federal funding announcement

DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society’s latest bit of funding will be the “thread” that helps the organization work with transition homes and other settlement organizations, says the society’s CEO.

Minister of Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef was at DIVERSEcity Tuesday (Aug. 27) to announce more than $3 million in funding for five organizations to help support survivors of gender-based violence in the Lower Mainland.

“The support that we’re offering to these organizations isn’t just for those who are addressing and preventing gender-based violence,” Monsef said, “even though every two-and-a-half days a woman is killed in Canada, every six days she is killed by an intimate partner, either an ex or a current partner, even though it’s costing us billions of dollars that is not the only area of attention.

“We’ve also heard that it’s really important for women’s organizations to be able to have the capacity to go from analog to digital, to come up with strategic plans that are in line with the 21st century.”

READ ALSO: Surrey woman’s ‘tell-all’ book aims to help those struggling with domestic violence, Sept. 19, 2018

DIVERSEcity is receiving $600,000 “to help immigrant and refugee women and children in situations of domestic violence,” Monsef said.

“They will be working to improve the safety and wellbeing of families in service provision and to maximize communication with gender-based violence service providers.”

Neelam Sahota, DIVERSEcity’s CEO, said the funding is “tremendous” because it will allow the society to “work in collaboration with so many great organizations already doing work out there.”

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DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society CEO Neelam Sahota speaks during an announcement of more than $3 million in federal funding to support survivors of gender-based violence in the Lower Mainland, including $600,000 for Surrey’s DIVERSEcity. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

“It provides us, basically, a thread that gets us working together with transition homes, with other settlement organizations,” Sahota said.

The funding, she said, will be used for a pilot project that’s also “happening for the first time in Canada.” Sahota said the project is based off an Australian model called “Signs of Safety.”

According to Signs of Safety’s website, it’s an “innovative, strengths-based safety organised approach to child protection casework.” The creators worked with more than 150 frontline statutory practitioners and “based it on what those practitioners know works well with difficult cases.”

“The approach focuses on the question ‘How can the worker build partnerships with parents and children in situations of suspected or substantiated child abuse and still deal rigorously with the maltreatment issues?’”

Sahota told the Now-Leader that DIVERSEcity has had a “keen interest” in this model because it was “seeing positive results with newcomers and refugee women accessing safety plans that were culturally sensitive.”

“Obviously due to the federal government being open to the idea of testing this out in Canada, we feel that there’s only upside to be gained in the sense of if this project can be scaleable to Canada and is responsive to the needs of newcomer women, then we’d love to be able to provide some data and research in order to hopefully replicate it across other cities.”

Sahota said it helps that Surrey has the population and growth as a city to offer this program.

“I think we get that cross-section of population that in many ways, we’re a microcosm of what the rest of Canada is, so it really makes sense that we actually pilot this and we are the leaders in the forefront of this.”

DIVERSEcity, she said, began piloting the program back in April.

The other organizations that received funding are:

• B.C. Society of Transition Housing, which received $800,000 “to improve access to transition houses and safe homes for Indigenous women and children.”

• Stó:lō Service Agency received $243,000 “to help address ongoing challenges facing Indigenous women in the area, including poverty, incarceration, as well as sexual abuse and assault.”

• Vancouver Women’s Health Collective received $400,000 “to test and evaluate the application of the Aboriginal Women’s Intervention as a promising practice in the Downtown Eastside… in order to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous women who are survivors of intimate partner violence.”

• WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre, which received $985,000 “to identify gaps in service provisions and increase provisions and inclusion for two-spirit and LGBT communities and gender non-binary survivors of gender-based violence.”

READ ALSO: Deals on paid time off for domestic violence ‘beginning of a wave,’ says expert, June 22, 2019

OUR VIEW: No justice for victim in Surrey domestic violence case, March 28, 2019



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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