Fort McMurray launches Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)
—Collaborative effort provides crucial support to survivors of sexual assault—
Survivors of sexual assault can expect to receive a coordinated and collaborative response when they seek support from agencies in Fort McMurray. Facilitated by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), a year long planning and implementation process involving government agencies, hospital, police and community-based services developed a ‘made in Fort McMurray’ Sexual Assault Response Team. Funded by Status of Women Canada and the Government of Alberta, this team becomes the 5th SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) in the province of Alberta and the first new team established in ten years.
“Fort McMurray was the first community to respond to this initiative, replying within hours of the call for interested communities” says Barbara Hagen, Collaborative Community Response Coordinator at AASAS. “Agencies in Fort McMurray had already been discussing their desire to have their own team. The energy, creativity and commitment of the agencies involved really drove this process forward.”
Hagen added that this initiative did not inject new programs or staff into the community. “AASAS supported the SART development by sharing promising practices, facilitating the process and providing specialized training and sustainability resources,” she says. “Every community determines the scope and direction of their model, their ownership and investment in the creation of their SART increases long term sustainability.”
In addition to the team in Fort McMurray, four other communities are hoping to launch their SART’s early in 2016. The communities of Medicine Hat, Lloydminster, Grande Prairie and Rocky Mountain House are also participating in this initiative. Just as the existing SART’s in Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Lethbridge all operate from different models, each new SART will reflect the unique needs and capabilities within their communities.
The participating agencies in Fort McMurray worked with AASAS to develop collaborative working guidelines, provide feedback on the development of resources and attend specialized sexual assault training. Key sexual assault responders from Wood Buffalo RCMP, the Emergency Department at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, Victims Services Unit, Addictions and Mental Health, Child and Family Services, Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinic, Crown Prosecutor’s office and Waypoints Sexual Assault Program championed this initiative from start to finish. Moving forward, they will continue to evaluate and refine their responses to survivors of sexual assault and hope to collaborate with other SART’s in Alberta.
Fort McMurray Today: Sexual Assault Response Team Launches in Fort McMurray
Edmonton Journal: Fort McMurray Starts New Program to Help Sexual Assault Victims
CBC Radio: December 2, 2015 4.20 to 11.45