Connect recently completed new research on the role of Women’s Centres in the Continuum of Care for women who’ve experienced violence. This research focused on women in rural areas, and what they found is that:
Women’s Centres provide a crucial touchstone for women and gender-diverse people as they navigate overwhelmed government systems.
In partnership with other community-based services like transition houses, Women’s Centres are able to provide wrap-around support which is especially important in rural communities. As the Mass Casualty Commission turns its attention to the role of gender-based violence in the 2020 mass murders, the importance of comprehensive wrap-around support for women fleeing violent relationships is more apparent than ever.
Despite the growing awareness of how critical these supports are to the well-being of our communities, the research also revealed that the community-based organizations tasked with addressing gender-based violence are at a breaking point. Years of chronic underfunding and insecurity, combined with increasing demand and the pressures of the pandemic, have left many organizations struggling to find creative ways to keep their doors open. “One of the messages that came through loud and clear from the research is that there is a lack of resources and support to do the work. It’s been years since there’s been a funding increase. With inflation at an all-time high, how are community organizations supposed to do the work when they’re getting the same amount of money they were 8 years ago? And at the same time they’re dealing with the overflow from all the other overwhelmed systems and much more complex and challenging situations,” says Research Coordinator, Wyanne Sandler.
The research also showed that because of the inability to offer competitive pay and the demands of the work, many organizations are facing challenges in recruiting and retaining staff. Those who have stayed report high levels of burnout and exhaustion. “It became clear to me that this is critically important, life-saving work. And we are doing this on the back of a workforce of women that have just been asked to give so much of themselves. We need to be asking our government to step up and do better,” says Sandler. The full report can be found here.