Eight mental health and settlement agencies in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island are joining forces to support survivors of torture and their communities. Together, we aim to enhance the collective support system and foster empowerment. This collaborative initiative, funded by the Victoria Foundation, brings together notable organizations such as VAST, VICCIR, DIVERSEcity, ISSofBC, ICA, Rainbow Refugee, Anglican Diocese, and VIRCS. Through interviews and round-table discussions, vital gaps action items, and areas of improvement have been identified. Find out about our key findings and next stepts!
The initiative brought together a collaborative effort from eight mental health and settlement agencies in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, all united by a shared objective of supporting survivors of torture. These agencies included:
- The Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture (VAST) |More
- Vancouver Island Counseling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees (VICCIR) | More
- DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society (DCRS) | More
- Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) | More
- Inter-Cultural Association (ICA) | More
- Rainbow Refugee | More
- Anglican Diocese of Islands and Inlets – Refugee Program | More
- Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre (VIRCS) | More
This project was funded by the Victoria Foundation.
During the two round-table discussions held online with our stakeholders, it was evident that there are several significant gaps in the collective support system for survivors of torture in our community. These gaps were consistently highlighted by the participating agencies.
Based on the feedback received during this project, the following points emerged as the most frequently mentioned areas requiring attention and improvement.
Survivors of torture find themselves entangled in a web of multiple and competent service providers, which can be overwhelming. The importance of establishing and adhering to best practices for the referral and support process was emphasized by stakeholders. This includes elements such as inter-agency coordination, building trust and ensuring honest and appropriate follow-up. Moreover, stakeholders’ focus extended beyond basic networking and regular meetings, highlighting the need to gain a clear understanding of the services available to effectively meet the needs of torture survivors, their families, and their communities.
Training plays a crucial role in addressing key questions related to torture, its impact on survivors, as well as their families and communities. By equipping service providers with appropriate training, we can effectively respond to these questions. Presently, survivors often experience a distressing cycle of endless referrals or go unnoticed within the gaps of service delivery. There is a pressing need for training that enables agencies to create safe and supportive spaces, effectively utilize available resources, services, and referrals. Moreover, comprehensive training resources should cover essential topics such as re-traumatization, public stigma, vicarious trauma, and burnout prevention for frontline workers and their colleagues.
Case conferencing and community capacity building
To enhance the capacity of staff members supporting survivors of torture, case conferencing is perceived as a valuable approach to gaining insight into the specific needs and strengths of survivors, while fostering cooperation and collaboration among relevant stakeholders. Developing a case conference protocol to ensure consistency and effectiveness in the process is important. Additionally, establishing case-sharing sessions for sharing best practices is needed.
Research and advocacy
It is essential to leverage the power of research to inform and support advocacy initiatives. Active participation in research, advocacy, and policy program development is encouraged to contribute to the advancement of advocacy and policy programs. Advocacy for expanded definitions of torture to encompass the experiences of family members, children, and their support community is recommended.
Overall, the analysis emphasizes the significance of advocacy in amplifying the voices of survivors and effecting positive change. Lastly, organizing advocacy efforts collectively and prioritizing knowledge development and public education was recognized.