Medicine Hat 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 Medicine Hat. 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 Medicine Hat’ Sexual Assault Response Team. Funded by Status of Women Canada and the Government of Alberta, this team is one of 5 new SART’s (Sexual Assault Response Team) in the province of Alberta as part of a federal-provincial initiative.
“Medicine Hat was one of the first communities to respond to this initiative, replying within hours of the call for interested communities” says Barbara Hagen, Collaborative Community Response Coordinator at AASAS. “Over a period of years, discussions had been occurring in Medicine Hat about the feasibility of creating a Sexual Assault Response Team. The commitment of the agencies involved supported solidifying a team at this point in time.”
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.”
Within this project, 5 new teams are being supported across the province. In addition to the team in Medicine Hat, three other communities are hoping to launch their SART’s this year. Fort McMurray launched their team in December and the communities of Lloydminster, Grande Prairie and Rocky Mountain House are also participating in the project. 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 Medicine Hat worked with AASAS to develop collaborative working guidelines, provide input into the development of key resources and attend specialized sexual assault training. Primary sexual assault responders from the Medicine Hat Police Service, Redcliff RCMP, the Emergency Department at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital, Medicine Hat Victim Assistance Unit, Redcliff Victims Services Unit, Addictions and Mental Health, Child and Family Services, Sexual Health Clinic, Crown Prosecutor’s office and the Sexual Assault Response Committee (SARC) 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.
102.1 CJCY: Local Sexual Assault Response Team Launches
Medicine Hat News: Medicine Hat launches sexual assault response team