Ontario's colleges to publicize new sexual assault policies by March 31

TORONTO, Feb. 2, 2015 /CNW/ - Ontario's colleges have begun local consultations to finalize a new stand-alone Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Policy and Protocol that will be publicly promoted at all colleges by March 31.

"Our campuses must be safe and welcoming and we must ensure immediate and effective help is available to victims of sexual assault," said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "The information will be easy to access and will be actively promoted at all colleges so that everyone's rights are clearly understood and victims get the support they need."

The presidents of the 24 colleges endorsed the framework for the Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Policy and Protocol at a meeting in Toronto last week.

The colleges and representatives from Colleges Ontario (the advocacy organization for the colleges) are now consulting with student leaders, government officials, the Ontario Women's Directorate, OPSEU and others on the policy and protocol. The feedback will be incorporated into the materials as they are finalized for the end of March.

The comprehensive materials were developed by a task force that included senior college leaders, a student representative and legal experts. Building on existing policies and practices at the colleges, the materials include recommendations for promoting greater awareness at colleges and establishing a clear protocol for responding to cases of sexual assault and violence.

The materials also include information about protecting people's privacy and the steps that should be taken if someone witnesses a sexual assault or has learned about a sexual assault.

As well, the colleges are seeking provincial changes to better support victims of sexual assault. For example, the colleges are recommending the provincial government take steps to ensure that victims throughout the province have immediate access to 24-hour emergency hotline services.

The provincial government is also being asked to consider regulatory changes that might allow colleges and the police to share more information in certain circumstances. The colleges' proposals might help inform the Wynne government's action plan on sexual assault that will be developed by March 8, which is International Women's Day.

"Protecting everyone on our campuses is a priority for every college in the province," Franklin said. "This is an ongoing process to promote awareness, education and clear policies that reinforce that safety is a paramount priority in Ontario's colleges."

SOURCE Colleges Ontario

For further information: Karen Horsman, Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Colleges Ontario, 647-258-7686, horsman@collegesontario.org

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www.collegesontario.org

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