DT News interview: the SMRC expands its 24/7 support line services to former CAF members and DND public service employees

Video / December 16, 2021


(E) Recently, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre expanded its 24/7 support line services to former Canadian Armed Forces members and National Defence public service employees who have been affected by sexual misconduct.

The work provided by the SMRC is vital for the entire Defence Team, and today we welcome Danielle Carter, Team Lead of Response and Support at the SMRC, to tell us about the expansion and what SMRC support services can do for us.

Thank you for joining us today, Danielle.

(D) Thank you so much for having me.

(T) Absolutely! So, to kick us off, can you tell us a little bit about why the SMRC has expanded its support services right now?

(D) For sure! It's always been our centre's intention to expand services to additional client groups with, of course, the ultimate goal of reaching more individuals within the Defence community, who have been affected by sexual misconduct. It's our hope that the expansion will increase awareness of SMRC services across the department. And I would say, you know, an interesting point to note there is that our services aren't only available for those who are directly affected by sexual misconduct. Also those who are supporting someone who is affected, such as a chain of command or a manager.

 (T) I think that, as much as we do need to support survivors, we also need to support those people who are supporting them. So, that's, uh... you know, a great expansion. So, all of these new supports are available. How do people access it? How do the people get in touch with the SMRC to make use of the resources that are now available?

(D) Right! So, the best way to contact us is via our 24/7 phone line. So, that number is: 1-844-750-1648. That is a 24/7 service, every day. And you can access that service in English or French. Once a client selects the language of their choice, they are then connected with a counselor right away who introduce themselves and provide some information on the confidentiality of the phone call. After this, the counselor will do an assessment of the needs of the caller and provide supportive counselling and empathetic listening. Based on this conversation, the counselor will then provide information and referrals to the client based on the needs that they've identified. And I think that it's important to know that a caller can choose to remain anonymous if they're not comfortable providing their name. I would say, lastly, the counselor would facilitate access to internal resources and external resources where applicable.

(T) That last bit about anonymity is key because I’m sure there are barriers or comfort levels that will impede people from reaching out, even seeking resources and support from the SMRC.

So what could you say to people who are contemplating reaching out and need to access these resources but might have a bit of a hesitation in doing so?

(D) It’s important to note that the SMRC is completely independent from the Canadian Armed Forces and the chain of command. So our counsellors are public service employees who do not have a duty to report. And I think it’s also equally important to talk about the responsibility of the SMRC with regards to reporting. Because we are not a reporting mechanism. We are very much a centre that is there to support those who are affected by sexual misconduct. And of course, if somebody would like to report an incident, we will absolutely help guide them with the options that are available to them.

So at the SMRC, we take the approach that it really is all about the person who’s calling us. We’re inviting the caller to drive the conservation and tell us what their goal is. If they don’t know what their goal is, we will help them in determining that and we work with them towards achieving that goal by providing them with the support and resources along the way.

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