Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Actions to curb domestic violence saluted

Organizations across the region were recognized for their leadership in preventing domestic violence in the workplace during a ceremony last Thursday at La Place Rendez-Vous here.
Presented through the Neighbours, Friends and Families’ Workplace Champion Program, in partnership with the Rainy River District Women’s Shelter of Hope, eight organizations in the Kenora-Rainy River districts were acknowledged for taking important steps to create safe, supportive workplaces.

These included the Northern Lights Credit Union branches in Fort Frances, Rainy River, Ignace, Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, and Dryden, as well as Atikokan Community Counselling Services and Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services.
“They taught supervisors and workers how to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence, how to respond quickly and effectively, and how to refer people in need to supportive resources,” noted Donna Kroocmo, executive director of the Women’s Shelter of Hope.
“By recognizing domestic violence and knowing how to respond and refer, we can help prevent serious injuries and fatalities,” she stressed.
Kroocmo said each of the organizations that were saluted accessed workplace education and training resources developed by the Neighbours, Friends and Families Campaign to support employers in meeting their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Similar ceremonies will be taking place in other communities throughout the province.
Kroocmo also noted that since June 15, 2010, all employers in Ontario are responsible for protecting workers from domestic violence at work, and must develop written policies to help workers who are victims of domestic violence.
“I can review their policy and make suggestions,” she explained, adding organizations are encouraged to request training and education from her.
“It’s a way to enhance what they currently have in place,” Kroocmo added, noting even though domestic violence is a part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, a lot of people don’t know what that means.
“Our government has launched initiatives to protect victims of domestic violence,” Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro said in a statement as he could not attend Thursday’s ceremony.
“[But] government action is just one part of the solution,” he stressed. “In workplaces across the province, people are taking action to protect victims of domestic violence.
“This is important work,” added Mauro. “The workplaces being recognized have demonstrated leadership on this issue.”
Kroocmo said there are three levels within the training, with the eight recognized workplaces receiving the Level 2 certification.
“It really makes you more aware,” said Mags Cumming of the Northern Lights Credit Union.
“Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence,” echoed Wendy Brunetta of the Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services.
“Response to the training has been very positive,” enthused Kroocmo.
“Ninety-seven percent of the participants [reported] a greater understanding of women abuse and more confidence in knowing how to respond to a co-worker that they suspect is suffering from, or at risk of, women abuse,” she added.
“This program fosters caring, safety, and support,” said Sally Burns, who is with Mauro’s constituency office in Atikokan.
“To be a victim of domestic violence is devastating . . . but it’s appropriate to reach out,” she noted.
“Help break the silence and avert tragedy.”
Kroocmo stressed it’s important for people to report women’s abuse.
“Though it’s not yet legislated to report like child abuse is, people need to report it. They can’t turn a blind eye,” she warned.
“Everyone has a role to play in ending domestic violence.”
For more information about the Neighbours, Friends and Families at Work training program, call Kroocmo at 1-807-597-2868.

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