February 8, 2016 2:49 pm
Updated: February 8, 2016 8:51 pm

University of Alberta to enhance sexual assault services following review

WATCH ABOVE: The University of Alberta is focusing on providing support for sexual assault victims. Kendra Slugoski reports.

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EDMONTON — The University of Alberta will begin to develop a stand-alone sexual assault policy following a recent review of the university’s prevention, education and response to sexual assault.

The Sexual Violence Review Group made 46 recommendations for the U of A following the review, many of which aim to improve coordination of efforts between units to ensure those who have experienced sexual violence have the support they need.

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“Though the Review of the University of Alberta’s Response to Sexual Assault shows we have many robust supports and services already in place to help survivors of sexual assault, there is still more to be done, and each one of us has a role to play in addressing this important issue,” U of A provost Steven Dew said.

According to the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime and only about 10 per cent of assaults are ever reported to police.

READ MORE: Why don’t women report rape? Because most get no justice when they do

While the number of sexual assaults on campus is not known, the university does have a sexual assault centre to provide support for victims.

The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton works closely with the university and applauds the efforts being made to increase awareness of sexual violence on campus.

“With a campus as large as 30,000 plus students, sexual violence likely takes place and they’re recognizing that it is an issue versus pretending like it’s not happening or turning the other way,” Lauren Wiles, a registered psychologist with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton said.

READ MORE: Securing convictions in cases of sexual assault notoriously difficult: experts

The U of A’s Sexual Assault Centre recently posted a five-part educational video series online in hopes of removing some of the stigma around sexual violence and dispel myths.

Online resources were also recently made available for those seeking support.

Wiles applauds the move to post resources online, as she believes seeking services can often be daunting for victims of sexual violence.

“I think it can be difficult for people to walk through the doors of an agency that says, ‘We’re providing services for sexual assault,'” Wiles said.

“By bringing things online, individuals are allowed to take a look a what resources are available to them and engage in their own healing process in a way that’s not exposing.”

Dew said work to enhance the university’s system of supports and services “begins today.” The university will immediately develop a working committee to act on the recommendations of the report, and implement 10 of them within the next year.

“Together, we can ensure that the U of A is a community where sexual assault is not tolerated and where victims can be assured that, here, they will be heard, believed and helped.”

The review of the University of Alberta’s Response to Sexual Assault is posted below:

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