The Ministry of Children and Family Development has appointed the director of investigations from the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth to lead the newly created Provincial Office of Domestic Violence.
This office will be accountable for ensuring all domestic violence policies, programs and services are effective and delivered in a comprehensive and unified way across government.
Cory Heavener, currently the Director of Critical Injury and Death Reviews and Investigations for the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, will take on this new role effective March 26, 2012. In her current role, she has led two significant investigations and reports dealing with domestic violence, 'No Private Matter: Honouring Christian Lee', and most recently 'Honouring Kaitlynne, Max, and Cordon - Make Their Voices Heard Now', a report on three children who were killed by their father, Allan Schoenborn.
As part of Heavener's role with the Representative's Office, she has engaged and worked with experts in domestic violence to analyze and recommend improvements to systems in addition to analyzing domestic violence programs, services and policies. Heavener, who has worked with the Representative for Children and Youth since 2007, was previously the Associate Provincial Director of Child Welfare in the Ministry of Children and Family Development and has over 23 years of child welfare experience in British Columbia.
The immediate responsibility for the Head of the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence will be to focus on identifying the gaps in policies, practices and services across government that support children and families experiencing domestic violence. Heavener will also lead the development of a comprehensive action plan in collaboration with a team of six deputy ministers that will respond to the recommendations made by the Representative in the Schoenborn report. The action plan will include specific targets and timeframes and be presented to the Representative by July 31, 2012, with implementation to begin immediately.
The new office will be the permanent lead for government, focused on strengthening the services and supports available for children and families affected by domestic violence. The office's responsibility will be to ensure co-ordination and collaboration throughout government in order to ensure an improved system around domestic violence. Monitoring, evaluation and reporting out on progress will be key functions of the office.
The Provincial Office of Domestic Violence will be a permanent addition within the Ministry of Children and Family Development, reporting to the deputy minister, to ensure continued leadership and accountability within government.
Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"It's critical that vulnerable families get the supports and services they need, when they need them. We have taken immediate action to begin addressing recommendations made by the Representative in the Schoenborn report."
"Ms. Heavener's appointment will put us on the right path towards having a co-ordinated and strengthened approach to domestic violence, in addition to further enhancing the strong relationship the ministry has with the Representative's Office."
Cory Heavener, Head of the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence -
"I feel honoured to have been asked to lead this new provincial domestic violence office. I know from my close work with women and children affected by violence what a difference the right services at the right time can make. I hope the recent tragedies will be a powerful catalyst for change so that we really will honour Christian, Kaitlynne, Max and Cordon and all others affected by violence."
"The Provincial Office of Domestic Violence will strive to ensure that government has a strong, co-ordinated approach to addressing domestic violence so that no child or family falls through the gaps."
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Representative for Children and Youth -
"Having worked closely with Ms Heavener and recognizing the significant experience she has on issues of domestic violence, child welfare and implementation, I am very pleased with this appointment. Ms Heavener's belief in the strengths of families and of the need to support women and children is profound and I think she will bring great value to this new office."
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General -
"We want British Columbians to be safe in their communities, and especially in their homes. I look forward to working with Ms Heavener and my cabinet colleagues in a co-ordinated, focused way to ensure that moving forward we have a system that better supports women and children to live a life free from violence."
- The B.C. Government currently commits more than $40 million a year to prevention and intervention services and programs for victims of domestic violence and other crimes.
- Since the release of the Representative's report on the death of Christian Lee, No Private Matter, a number of important steps have been taken to improve the Province's policies regarding domestic violence.
- The new Family Law Act, passed into law in November, explicitly defines domestic violence, including references to victims of harassment, stalking and, in the case of a child, indirect or direct exposure to family violence.
- Government launched online domestic violence training for all front-line police officers and supervisors. Over 7,700 serving police officers have now taken the training and new police recruits and RCMP cadets coming to B.C., are required to take this course.
- In 2010, the Ministry of Children and Family Development strengthened its child protection policy in domestic abuse cases. The updated policy emphasizes the need for collaboration with service providers, police, probation officers and other professionals in these situations.
- To date, 700 staff from ministry, delegated agencies and service providers have attended domestic violence training and all staff have been trained in the new child protection response model.
- The Province supports specialized domestic violence police units, which pair a dedicated police officer with a community-based victim service worker to address high-risk victims of domestic violence. Units are located in Vancouver, Victoria, New Westminster and Abbotsford.
- The Province funds more than 250 programs that assist women and children impacted by violence. This includes:
- 97 Stopping the Violence Counselling programs.
- 88 Children Who Witness Abuse Counselling programs.
- 56 Outreach Services programs.
- 12 Multicultural Outreach Services programs.
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development