The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre Announces an Online Discussion Board Platform for Those Affected by Sexual Misconduct and Their Families as Well as Other Support Services

June 22, 2022 -  Defence Stories

Today, the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre held a virtual event to update Defence Team members and the veterans’ community on a new peer support platform for those affected by sexual misconduct as well as other expanded support services and upcoming ones.

The SMRC’s Acting Executive Director, Shoba Ranganathan announced the launch of the first feature of the Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Peer Support Program, an online peer support discussion platform. Although the online platform, called Togetherall, is launched in the context of the MST Peer Support Program, it offers discussion boards for current and former CAF members/veterans, DND public service employees affected by sexual misconduct, and their families. This platform will provide a confidential space to foster peer-to-peer connection, resiliency and wellness amongst persons with lived experiences of sexual misconduct.

Togetherall, a well-established platform for peer support is safe, confidential and anonymous. It offers a 24/7 access and support, and a round-the-clock clinical oversight. In addition to the discussion boards, Togetherall provides various mental health and well-being resources and tools.

The online peer support discussion platform is just the first feature of the MST Peer Support Program. Other features such as text and chat-based peer support, one-on-one and group in-person peer support are being developed and will become available for current and former CAF members later, once peer supporters are hired.

The SMRC also took the opportunity to announce that it has expanded its Response and Support Coordination (RSC) program beyond the National Capital Region (NCR - Ottawa/Gatineau) to Nunavut, Québec and Pacific (British Columbia and Yukon) regions. The RSC provides timely and comprehensive support and assistance to each program client by an assigned, dedicated Response and Support coordinator. Expansion improves access to in-person accompaniment and advocacy and help increase awareness of the program.

The SMRC will expand the RSC to all regions of the country with launches of the Atlantic, Prairies and Ontario regions planned for 2022-2023. In the meantime, Response and Support coordinators currently in place will continue to support individuals across the country until all regions are fully operational.

Near the end of the event, the SMRC provided updates on the delivery of the Restorative Engagement (RE) program, mandated by the CAF-DND Sexual Misconduct Class Action Settlement. The RE program empowers class members to share their experiences, knowledge and/or understanding of sexual misconduct in the DND and CAF and contribute to culture change. Within the context of this program, the National Defence Minister recently granted an exception to the Duty to Report for participants within the RE program. In light of this exception, the SMRC reminded those who are class members and who haven’t yet expressed interest in participating in the RE program that they may still do so within 30 days of receiving their initial decision letter by contacting the claims administrator.

The SMRC closed the event by providing a brief outline of programs and services to come such as their contribution program becoming a grant program, the development of an independent legal advice program and other important resources and tools for those affected by sexual misconduct and those who support them. Participants were invited to ask questions and provide feedback anonymously.

Defence Team members who could not attend the event and wish to learn more about SMRC’s support services and programs may visit the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre webpage or send an email to DND.SMRC-CIIS.MDN@forces.gc.ca. The event was also recorded and will become available on their website in the near future.

Those who wish to be engaged in the development of such programs and services may send an email to the Partnerships and Engagements team at: SMRC.Partnerships-Partenariats.CIIS@forces.gc.ca

As the SMRC continues to expand, it will continue to work hard to support current and former CAF members and DND public service employees affected by sexual misconduct. As always, the SMRC’s confidential phone line is answered by bilingual trained counselors 24/7 at 1-844-750-1648.

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