Women’s groups eye partnership

Two city agencies founded decades ago to help abused woman are sharing an executive director and looking at other potential partnerships.

‘We don’t know if there is going to be an amalgamation,” said Michelle Batty, who now oversees both the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre and the Women’s Interval Home.

“Our boards are having discussions and looking at ways we can work closely together. What develops from that, we’ll see.”

Programs and funding are among the issues on the table. Interval home staff are unionized while the survivor centre is not. The centre also runs a unique program for male victims of sex abuse.

“Right now, the two boards are in the process of obtaining more information and there will be a decision to make it public when there is more information, however we’re going to proceed,” Batty said.

The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre began in 1982 when 40 professionals from local agencies met to address a lack of victim services.

Funded by the Ministry of Attorney General and private donations, it provides a range of programs for survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse age 16 and older.

The Women’s Interval Home operates a 17-bed emergency shelter for women and children from abusive situations. It has a 24-hour crisis line, counselling and a shelter-based school for children.

The Interval Home’s executive director, Karen Hunter, took a leave of absence in May and is not returning.

To do both jobs, Batty is cutting back on her time on various community committees.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s a real opportunity to work together and to have a powerful, credible voice regarding violence against women and children.”

The Survivors’ Centre is also preparing to move into the Chris Dawson Centre this summer. The East Street location has more room available for groups and volunteer training, Batty said.

To make that happen, the Survivors’ Centre is trying to raise $30,000 to reconfigure one large open area into space for offices, counselling and increased client privacy.

– George Mathewson