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As we move forward with implementing our project over the next 24 months we need your help in spreading the word about the Victim Justice Network.
Over the past year we have held numerous consultations and meetings with crime victims, service providers and others who serve victims to obtain their input on the development of the Victim Justice Network.
Over the coming months there will be numerous opportunities to work directly to build and expand the Victim Justice Network through:
- Participation on Advisory Committees;
- Development of information and content for the website;
- Contribute to the establishment of linkages between sectors in areas of criminal justice, social services, and health services;
- Share best practices or models of service that effectively benefit crime victims.
The VJN is supported by the efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers and advisors who have been working collaboratively with the Executive team to develop a new website that will be accessible to the public in late-Spring 2015.
Key members of the VJN advisory group include:
Robin Flumerfelt, Crown Counsel at the Crown Law Office – Criminal where he argues cases before the Ontario Court of Appeal and conducts justice prosecutions. Robin is also Director of the Ontario Crown Homicide Course and Director of Joint Programming for the Ontario Crown Attorney’s Association.
Patricia Hung, Police officer, Toronto Police Service (TPS), a certified From Heartbreak to Happiness™ Coach, author, speaker, is on the VJN National Victim Advisory Committee and is the mother of a murdered child.
Fiona MacCool, Your Legal Rights Project Manager at Community Legal Education Ontario CLEO, Fiona is the Project Manager at CLEO and manages the “Your Legal Rights” website specializing in electronic strategy and online collaboration for non-profit organizations.
Meghan O’Brien, Meghan O’Brien is a Communications Lead with Payments Canada where she is responsible for providing strategic communications advice to leadership, crisis communications planning, message development and media relations. Before joining Payments Canada, Meghan was a journalist for more than a decade. She reported on high-profile crime stories and collaborated on investigative projects that held institutions and individuals accountable. In 2014, she joined the Victim Justice Network as a Volunteer Senior Communications Advisor to oversee content creation and manage communications.
Andre Paradis, Consultant, Former Director, Community Information & Training Services at Findhelp Information Services – 211 Toronto, Andre has years of experience in the non-profit sector and has expertise in the management of information and referral databases which link to thousands of community programs and services across Canada.
Since 2013 the VJN has received time limited funding from the Department of Justice Canada Victims Fund.
Project funding also received in 2013 from the Law Foundation of Ontario to organize a Planning Symposium.
Funding from the Policy Centre for Victims Issues, Department of Justice Canada for two national online webinars.
Project funding from Department of Justice Canada for three-years to support VJN website and IT infrastructure.
Partnership with Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) on two webinars.
The VJN is currently developing a strategic plan to support the long-term sustainability of the organization.
The VJN has created an advisory group composed of volunteers from various backgrounds and sectors to assist with phase one:
- Victims of Crime
- Law & Criminal Justice
- Communications and Media
- Information and Referral Services
- Victim Services & Support
- Victimology, Academic Study
- Legal Education
Outreach: Over the past year the VJN has engaged over 100 organizations/individuals/networks with the aim of creating national and international linkages.
Research and Academic collaborations: The VJN is partnering with the University of Montreal (Victimology), Algonquin College (Ottawa, Victimology) and York University (Osgoode Hall Law) on several research projects and joint initiatives.
Information and Education: In partnership with CLEO, the VJN has organized two online webinars: 1) Victim Impact Statements; 2) Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Both webinars have been viewed online/materials downloaded over 1000 times.
Next Steps: Expanding the Network
- Developing Provincial and Territorial representation on the Board as well as on the executive and administrative committees
- Building the VJN website and using online tools to promote growth of the network.
- Promoting cross-collaboration across sectors by leveraging new partnerships in different areas of service and support for victims (e.g. health, social services).
- Highlighting best practices, and innovative new models and approaches to service for crime victims.
- Using Social Media to market the VJN and to promote communication and info-sharing amongst those who serve and support victims of crime.
- Pursuing new partnerships in innovation to provide victims with greater access to the justice system and legal resources with minimal personal financial expense.
Phase one will be focused on designing an online experience that is accessible to crime victims in their greatest time of need.
This site will include direct access to information about services and supports available to crime victims in their community.
The site will include plain language information about the criminal justice system and how to navigate the system.
We are also building a national network of victims and victim service agencies,professionals and others to better meet the pressing needs of crime victims in areas such as:
- Victim services
- Legal Assistance and Education
- Health Care and Mental Health supports
- Financial Assistance
- Specialized clinical and psychological supports
- Services for vulnerable victims and ethnic communities
- Housing, Family Services and other Essential Needs
By creating an online service “hub” we hope to provide victims with access to a trusted resource that can assist them on the road to recovery and healing.
Key Challenges for Victims
There are a number of key challenges facing crime victims across Canada that the VJN aims to address through a national network:
- Information-sharing barriers;
- Access to financial resources and supports;
- Access to non-traditional programs, services and supports;
- Better coordination of services and supports to provide a continuum of services;
- Better trained and knowledgeable service providers.
- Increase public awareness of victim issues by providing better access to information and resources for crime victims online and through mobile applications;
- Promote greater collaboration across sectors to better serve and support victims;
- Develop a website that can meet the demand for online educational training resources to support those who interact with victims every day;
- Promote and support research and innovation through a network of service professionals who can work together to develop better models and approaches to serving crime victims.
- Finally, provide a forum to address emerging areas of victimization that require specialized expertise and supports: for example human trafficking, online sexual exploitation, and crimes involving children and youth.
Consistent with the objectives of the Federal Victims Strategy to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system, the Victim Justice Network (VJN) will address the following three priority areas in a national context:
- To promote access to justice for victims of crime through online victim-centred information, resources and referrals.
- To build a professional support network for justice professionals, victim service providers and others serving victims of crime.
- To develop and disseminate educational resources by supporting multidisciplinary research and innovation on emerging victims issues.
To promote awareness and understanding through access to information, innovation and resources to prevent victimization and better support victims of crime in our society.