Review of Provincial and Territorial Domestic Violence Legislation and Implementation Strategies

5. PUBLIC EDUCATION AND INFORMATION MATERIALS

PART 1: A REVIEW OF KEY IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES

5. PUBLIC EDUCATION AND INFORMATION MATERIALS

Since this report was primarily oriented to gathering readily available materials, the following points do not reflect the use of television, radio or newspaper as media for public education on domestic violence legislation.

5.1 Public awareness

Both the Saskatchewan (1998) and PEI (1998) evaluation reports state that more public education was needed about the legislation, but in neither case were specific suggestions made as to appropriate methods or channels. In Saskatchewan this recommendation was based on interviews with the key parties involved in helping victims to access orders. In PEI it was based on the fact that half the victims who obtained emergency orders had not heard about them through any public channels.

The majority of the victims who had heard about the legislation had done so through transition shelters. Front line workers in government departments had generally not been an active source of information. In Nunavut, community radio, television, community health nurses, safe houses (where they exist) and community justice workers may be useful conduits of information to the community.

5.2 Written materials

Sample written materials about the Act are listed in Appendix A.7. They consist of:

  • pamphlet about the Act generally;
  • information sheets for victims and respondents about specific things to know or prepare for in relation to an order; and,
  • multi-page guides about the Victim Assistance Order (VAO).

Whereas the first two items are useful without being too technical, the VAO guides may not be sufficient to help any but the most literate and confident of victims. It is generally conceded that the VAOs have not been heavily used and that most victims would need legal assistance to make applications for orders. If legal assistance is available, the most useful public education material would consist of a one-sheet description of information or evidence that would be helpful for clients to gather for their lawyer. Although half of a small number of victims interviewed in PEI (PEI 1998, p.20) found the VOA information useful and understandable, only two applied for an order, and one had great difficulty doing so.

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