Feb. 13, 2009
MIRAMICHI (CNB) - A pilot public awareness campaign was launched here today to promote safe and violence-free homes and communities.
The campaign was launched by the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB), the Miramichi Family Violence Prevention Network (MFVPN) and Family Violence Outreach. Social Development Minister Mary Schryer, who is also responsible for the status of women, and Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General John W. Foran participated.
Safer Families ... Safer Communities was inspired by a recent New Brunswick study conducted by researchers associated with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research in Fredericton. The study suggests there is a strong link between family violence and the use of firearms as well as the abuse of pets as a means of controlling another family member.
"Given the extent of family violence in Canada, there is a good chance that everyone knows somebody - either personally or professionally - who is experiencing abuse," said Deborah Doherty, executive director of PLEIS-NB. "Even if they don't suspect it, they may have a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbour who needs help. Learning to recognize the warning signs and risk factors is the first step. Reaching out and being supportive when they see these signs are the next steps. This campaign will encourage everyone to play a role in ending violence in our communities."
The campaign materials consist of a variety of bilingual products and education tools, including fact sheets, resource cards, posters and magnets. The materials are intended to help anyone in the community respond in a positive and supportive way when someone they know is experiencing abuse in their relationship. They offer key messages about violence and safety and also action strategies for friends, family and neighbours.
"Our department works closely with PLEIS-NB on several issues, most notably our Victim Services Program, and we are very proud of our combined efforts to build a safer New Brunswick," said Foran. "This campaign is an important step in helping people at risk realize that they are not alone, and that there are resources available to help them be safe."
The campaign will include workshops and presentations exploring a range of issues and innovative practices, while promoting discussion on fostering safe, healthy outcomes for individuals, families and communities. It is expected that Safer Families ... Safer Communities will eventually reach other regions of New Brunswick.
"The Government of New Brunswick is committed to addressing violence against women through the Better World for Women: Moving Forward action plan," said Schryer. "We work closely with our partners and stakeholders to raise awareness and move forward on common agendas. We use consultation, planning, development and implementation of initiatives that respond to the complex needs of families caught in domestic violence. Public awareness is a key element in achieving our goals."
Funding to develop the campaign was provided by the Women's Program Community Fund - Status of Women Canada. Support for the launch, workshop and future dissemination is being provided by the Women's Issues Branch of the Executive Council Office.
"We know that people in our community are caring and sensitive," said Patty Michaud, Family Violence Reach co-ordinator. "But many people don't know what to say or do when a friend, family member or co-worker appears to be in an abusive relationship. They need some tools that will give them concrete suggestions about how they can help. And that is exactly what they will find in these fact sheets. Our over-riding goal is to encourage everyone to be part of the solution to addressing family violence."
PLEIS-NB is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the public about the law. It receives funding and in-kind support from Justice Canada, the New Brunswick Law Foundation, and the Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs. For more information, visit its website.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Deborah Doherty, executive director, Public Legal Education Information Service of New Brunswick, 506-453-5369; Patty Michaud, Miramichi Family Violence Prevention Network, 506-778-6496; Lisa Harrity, communications, Department of Public Safety, 506-444-3425; Elizabeth Joubert, Women's Issues Branch, 506-444-3207.