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Workplaces saluted for helping prevent domestic violence

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A dozen workplaces across the district were saluted Friday for the steps they’ve taken to prevent domestic violence in the workplace.

“Domestic violence used to be a ‘mind your own business’ issue, but times have changed and employer requirements have changed,” said Donna Kroocmo, executive director of the Rainy River District Shelter of Hope, which organized the “Workplace Champion Recognition Ceremony” held at La Place Rendez-Vous.

“Now, more than ever, domestic violence is a workplace issue,” she stressed, noting that last June 15, the province amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act with Bill 168 to address issues of workplace harassment and violence.

Under Section 32.0.4 of the act, if an employer is aware—or ought to be aware—that domestic violence is likely to expose a worker to physical injury in the workplace, the employer must take every reasonable precaution to protect the worker.

The 12 local organizations recognized have accessed workplace education and training resources developed by the “Neighbours, Friends and Families” campaign to support employers in meeting their OHSA obligations.

“Through the comprehensive ‘Neighbours, Friends and Families at Work” training program, employers are taught to recognize the warning signs and to know how to respond safely and effectively to situations of domestic violence in their workplace or community,” Kroocmo explained.

The district organizations included Family & Children’s Services of the Rainy River District, the Supervised Access Program at FACS, Treaty #3 Police, Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, Rainy River District School Board, the Fort Frances Jail, the Northwest Community Legal Clinic, Atikokan Community Counselling, Hoshizaki House Women’s Shelter, Victim Witness Assistance Program, Rainy River District Victim Services, and the Rainy River District Shelter of Hope itself.

“As individuals, we all are obliged to ensure the safety of our neighbours,” stressed Becky McClain, with the Supervised Access Program at FACS.

“Lending our voices to put a stop to domestic violence will only serve to strengthen us as a community,” she reasoned.

“‘NFF’ should be commended for their continued effort to educate.”

Rainy River District was one of eight communities across the province that held a recognition ceremony to thank the more than 200 workplaces which have undergone “Neighbours, Friends and Families” training.

Three levels of achievement are available within the “NFF” campaign for each organization.

Level 1 achievers have had at least one staff member attend the one-hour presentation and disseminated “NFF” materials to all staff in their organization.

Level 2 status means all of the organization’s staff have attended the one-hour presentation.

Level 3 status is achieved by a person from the organization having attended a two-day facilitator training program, which allows them to present the one-hour “NFF” presentation to their own—and other—organizations.

“It is our hope that by next year, more organizations will have achieved at least a Level 1 placement with the provincial ‘NFF’ campaign,” said Kroocmo.

“Together, we can teach people the warning signs and educate them on what to do about it,” she remarked.

“Together, we can work towards ending women abuse!”

To find out more about the “Neighbours, Friends and Families at Work” training program, contact Kroocmo 1-807-597-2868 ext. 21 or via e-mail at dkroocmo@shaw.ca

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