Report on gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions released

Courage to Act includes more than 45 recommendations for preventing gender-based violence on Canadian campuses

Team of experts release report of recommendations to combat gender-based violence at Canadian post-secondary institutions.  
Journal File Photo

After consulting more than 300 participants representing over 60 post-secondary institutions, a report about gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses was released last week by a team of experts across Canada.

From January to May this year, Possibility Seeds Consulting, a Canadian project management and policy development firm dedicated to advancing gender equity, worked with the Women and Gender Equality Framework Advisory Committee established by Maryam Monsef, minister for women and gender equality, to draft a report about gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses in Canada.

The resulting report, titled Courage to Act: Developing a National Framework to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions, was released to the public on Sept. 11.

The project was run by a seven-person team, led by experts Farrah Khan and CJ Rowe, along with a 27-person advisory committee. They conducted 33 consultative sessions with campus and community stakeholders across Canada. Stakeholders included complainants and respondents in gender-based violence cases in post-secondary institutions, government officials, post-secondary students, union, faculty, staff, administration, and gender-based violence community organizations.

Queen’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator, Barb Lotan, participated in some of the consultations, but was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Journal.

In a statement to The Journal, the University wrote that “Queen’s has only recently received the Courage to Act report. The University is committed to sexual violence prevention, response, and education, and we will certainly be reviewing the document.”

The report has more than 45 recommendations, broken down into three sections to address gender-based violence on Canadian campuses: responding to disclosures; education; and reporting, investigations, and adjudication of cases involving gender-based violence.

In the “responding to disclosures” chapter, the recommendations suggest post-secondary institutions develop programs to become appropriately trauma-responsive. It also recommends institutions provide access to quality workplace accommodations and academic considerations for those affected by gender-based violence.

The education chapter’s key recommendations suggest post-secondary institutions employ multiple programs, tools, pedagogical approaches, and techniques in their educational programs to address gender-based violence.

It also called for students, faculty and staff to be exposed to prevention messages and education consistently and stressed that gender-based violence prevention education needs to be adaptable and consider the actual experiences of community members.

The last chapter, focused on reporting, investigations, and adjudication of cases involving gender-based violence, discussed student conduct, labour relations, and how they intersect with provincial, territorial, and federal legal processes.

The publishing of the report launched a two-year initiative which builds on the key recommendations within the report.

The initiative includes four strategies to prevent and address gender-based violence on Canadian campuses, which, according to the Courage to Act website, is one of the most underreported experiences in police statistics and in surveys.

The strategies include toolkits and resources for post-secondary campuses, including a trauma-informed investigations toolkit, a community risk screening tool, an education toolkit and a support and response toolkit. It also includes webinars and a podcast series exploring work being done to combat gender-based violence across the country.

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