Ontario's colleges finalize stand-alone policy on sexual assault and sexual violence

TORONTO, March 31, 2015 /CNW/ - A finalized stand-alone policy and protocol on sexual assault and sexual violence is now publicly available at each of Ontario's 24 colleges.

"This is an important step to promote safe campuses and ensure everyone's rights and responsibilities are clearly understood," said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "This helps reinforce the role we must all play in preventing sexual assaults and sexual violence."

College presidents voted unanimously in November to create a stand-alone policy and protocol that would be available at all colleges by March 31. A draft version was publicly released in January and there have been consultations throughout the province to finalize the document.

Building on existing policies and practices at the colleges, the stand-alone policy and protocol provides precise definitions of sexual assault and sexual violence, sets clear standards for reporting and responding to incidents of sexual violence, and establishes clear processes for complaints and investigations.

The policy also includes measures to ensure that people who make complaints are protected from reprisals, retaliation or threats. As well, it includes provisions to ensure that confidentiality is strictly observed.

Individual colleges and Colleges Ontario (the advocacy organization for the province's 24 colleges) have consulted with students and student leaders throughout Ontario. There have also been consultations with legal experts, the Ontario Women's Directorate, OPSEU, government officials and others.

The policy and protocol for each college is based on a provincial template. Each individual policy may be amended to fit local circumstances, based on the feedback from students and others in each college community.

The colleges' policy and protocol supports the action plan on sexual violence announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne on March 6. Work will continue to be done to ensure the initiatives at each college fulfil the expectations and requirements of the premier's action plan.

Ontario's colleges are currently working on next steps, including new education and training at the colleges and the development of new awareness and prevention initiatives.

"This is an ongoing priority at Ontario's colleges," Franklin said. "We will continue to raise awareness of measures to prevent sexual violence and work to ensure effective and immediate help is available for survivors."

SOURCE Colleges Ontario

For further information: Rob Savage, Director of Communications, Colleges Ontario, 647-258-7687, savage@collegesontario.org

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