The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre - The Organization
The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) was established in September 2015 under the authority of the Deputy Minister of National Defence. Independent from the chain of command, the SMRC provides support to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who have been affected by sexual misconduct. Originally established based on an Interim Mandate letter, the SMRC achieved a significant milestone in October 2017 when its Charter was signed by the Deputy Minister. The Charter speaks to the independence of the SMRC and how it is governed, the Executive Director’s accountabilities, the roles and responsibilities of the SMRC, and its vision and mission statements. It also articulates a vision for victim support that is accessible, comprehensive, seamless, trauma-informed, and evidence-based.
In May 2017, the first permanent Executive Director (ED) took over leadership of the SMRC. Dr. Denise Preston holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and is a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, the Canadian Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association. Prior to joining National Defence, she worked for the Parole Board of Canada for eight years as the Regional Director General for the Ontario/Nunavut region. Her mandate included delivery of information and support services to victims of federal offenders. Prior to this she worked as a Psychologist for the Correctional Service of Canada for 19 years where positions and worked in low, medium, and maximum security institutions, as well as at a psychiatric centre. She has extensive experience working with sexual, violent, and mentally disordered offenders, and with victims of sexual abuse and assault. In addition to her understanding of the causes and impacts of, as well as interventions for, sexual misconduct, she is familiar with the barriers to justice that many victims face, and with
the challenges of facilitating victim participation in the criminal justice system. Her expertise will position the SMRC as a Centre of Excellence in victim support.
Vision and Mission
The SMRC contributes to the elimination of sexual misconduct in the CAF, thus contributing to the operational readiness and effectiveness of the CAF.
As part of the Department of National Defence (DND) and independent from the chain of command, the SMRC ensures the provision of timely, compassionate, and comprehensive support to Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) members affected by sexual misconduct, while working in partnership with CAF to increase understanding, improve preventative measures, and enhance responding to these behaviours in the CAF.
For the purpose of this report, Sexual Misconduct is an umbrella term for any act that ranges from inappropriate jokes or comments through to sexual assault. Commonly referred to as Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour (HISB) in Operation Honour, this behaviour refers to acts that are either sexual in nature; and constitutes an offence under the Criminal Code or Code of Service Discipline (DAOD 5019-5).
A key priority in 2017-2018 was to review the organizational structure with a view to ensuring that the SMRC had the requisite functions and competencies to meet the vision articulated in the Charter. As shown in Figure 1, the Centre is organized according to six key functional areas: Response and Support, Military Liaison Team, Communications/Outreach, Corporate Services, Research and Development, and Training and Liaison. Four of the functional areas were in existence prior to the reorganization (Response and Support, Military Liaison Team, Communications/Outreach and Corporate Services) while the two additional functional areas, Research and Development and Training and Liaison, are in the process of being established.
While the Corporate Services section was already in existence, it requires some restructuring to operate more effectively. At present it is a small function with some duties being done centrally and others dispersed across various employees in the office. There has also been instability in the Business Manager position. In 2018-2019 the SMRC is expected to absorb the functions currently being done centrally, and its mandate is expected to expand. As well, as workload demands in SMRC have steadily increased, existing staff have limited capacity to continue to perform the Corporate Services functions they have been performing to-date. As such, a priority for next fiscal year will be to establish a more robust Corporate Services function at SMRC in order to fully assume all related functions.
The Military Liaison Team continues to evolve as well, reflecting the growing recognition that CAF members and the Chain of Command are seeking information regarding the processes associated with inappropriate sexual behaviour. This demand was not identified when the SMRC service delivery model was conceived. Recognizing and addressing the need is contributing to the professionalism of the SMRC. Work is ongoing to further the principles of embedding of the military liaison team which will include the revision of the terms of reference and the reporting structure. This will ensure that the independence of the SMRC is respected by the CAF.
With an approved budget allocation of $2.65 million for fiscal year 2017-2018, SMRC’s overall expenditures totaled $1.75 million. The bulk of the expenditures, 88%, were salary expenses. Over the course of the year, SMRC employed 16 indeterminate employees, one term employee, one contractor, three casual employees, and two students. Salary costs were less than expected due to unexpected vacancies and vacancies that took longer than expected to fill.
Operation and Maintenance (O&M) expenditures represented 12% of total costs. Of this, the bulk (8.2% or $142, 650) was spent on Maintenance/Technology, which included the acquisition of a virtual call centre solution in order to expand to 24/7 service delivery and the in-service support of the Case Management System. Training (1.5%), Developments/Initiatives (1.1%) and Outreach/Promotion (1.2%) activities accounted for the remainder of O&M expenses. Figure 2 depicts salary and operating expenses for 2017-2018.
SMRC was subject to two reviews in 2017-2018. Staff of the Assistant Deputy Minister (Review Services) (ADM(RS)) conducted a review to ensure that SMRC has the appropriate governance structures and resources in place. Two recommendations were made: to finalize foundational documents such as a revised mandate, a performance measurement framework, and business planning documents, and to establish an External Advisory Council (EAC), to be discussed in the Looking Forward section. Both of these recommendations were met this fiscal year, although the first meeting of the EAC is planned for early next fiscal year.
The ED briefed the Departmental Audit Committee on SMRC’s mandate and services, as well as progress on the two recommendations. A second briefing to this committee is planned in 2018, to demonstrate having met the two recommendations. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) initiated an audit of CAF’s response to Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour. SMRC was fully engaged in the assessment phase of this audit this fiscal year. The report will be tabled in Parliament next fiscal year.
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