||In response to the over-representation of Aboriginal people as victims of crime, the Victim Services unit of the Alberta Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General initiated the Aboriginal Outreach Specialist program. The Ministry hired a specialist to perform outreach services for Aboriginal victims of crime who reside on-Reserve or on a Métis Settlement. The Aboriginal Outreach Specialist provides a culturally sensitive, victim-centered approach, offering immediate crisis response and referrals to appropriate resources and services. The Aboriginal Outreach Specialist also coordinates the initiative and performs the necessary administrative duties.
This program began in 2007 as a three-year pilot project and has continued as a regular program.
||The Aboriginal Outreach Specialist program has several objectives:
- enhance services and responses to meet the needs of under-served Aboriginal victims of crime and their families, and increase access to services, particularly within the justice system;
- increase capacity to deliver victim services to under-served victims of crime;
- develop new approaches to help victims (particularly the under-served) and deliver services; and
- Increase the participation of Aboriginal victims in the criminal justice process.
||An evaluation completed at the end of the three-year pilot project indicated that the key objectives had been met. Barriers to service provision were addressed and there was a definite increase in the use of the services. As a dedicated presence in the community, the Aboriginal Outreach Specialist built trust and confidence with Aboriginal victims of crime. Longer-term benefits include an increasing number of victims willing to report crimes and greater victim involvement in the criminal justice process. Victims are also more engaged in support and healing activities and experience lower levels of distress.
||The cost of establishing this program was not significant and mainly involved salary and supervision for one additional full-time-equivalent position. This program is operating under a five-year funding grant from the Department of Justice Canada. When the five-year funding expires, this outreach approach may be funded through the Alberta Victims of Crime Fund.
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