Sexual Misconduct Response Centre’s executive director discusses the first year

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Just over one year after the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) opened its doors, Executive Director Glynnis French sat down to discuss the centre’s accomplishments to date.

What has the Centre achieved to date?

This past year has been a very important one for the SMRC. The Centre was set up in September 2015, and since that time we have made great strides in establishing ourselves as a ‘go to’ organization for all members of the CAF who have experienced harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.

We are one of the essential pillars of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Operation HONOUR campaign to eliminate inappropriate behaviour and protect the dignity of every CAF member in his or her work place. Today, our SMRC counsellors provide professional, confidential, and supportive counselling to CAF members, as well as advice to the chain of command and concerned bystanders who are taking an active role in supporting their fellow service personnel.

We have achieved a number of milestones. We have secured a central facility in downtown Ottawa. We have hired and continue to hire skilled, bilingual counsellors—each with considerable experience in the CAF community. They are the ones who are on duty to take the critical calls and guide members through the challenges they face to conclusions that meet their personal needs.

What are your goals for the Centre in 2017?

Our number one priority is to deliver the vital counselling services that the CAF requires of the SMRC. We must be responsive to the evolving social landscape and be prepared to cater to individual needs. To this end, we are giving careful consideration as to whether we should, and if so, how best to ensure that SMRC counsellors are available to members on a 24/7 basis.

Secondly, we continue to enrich our relationships with internal partners. This includes the Chaplain Services, the CAF National Investigation Services, Health Services, and especially the CAF Strategic Response Team (CSRT) on Sexual Misconduct, which is responsible for developing the training, policy, and integrated strategy for the CAF through Operation HONOUR.

What makes SMRC unique?

There has been nothing like the SMRC for members of the CAF before. We provide confidential services that complement other supportive groups and agencies located on bases and in local communities across the country. What makes SMRC unique is that we operate outside of the chain of command, which protects the privacy of our clients. While we report directly to the Deputy Minister of National Defence, we ensure that we are connected to the CAF institution we serve, and respond to their needs.

Our counsellors have lived and worked in a military nexus. They are supported by two senior liaison officers assigned to the Centre, the Military Police liaison officer (MPLO) and a CAF liaison officer, who provide expert advice on the culture and conditions of military lifestyle. For example, the MPLO can, if and when the member wishes, explain the complexities of the formal complaint processes. At all times, the member is assured confidentiality before deciding whether or not to take the next step.

What is your vision for the future?

The SMRC will continue to build on the firm foundation it has established. Confidential victim support remains at our core. Our counsellors are the heart of our operation and we will provide them with continuing training to ensure they remain respected leaders in their field. Furthermore, we must ensure that every member of the CAF is aware of our services and knows how to reach the SMRC.

As we build our expertise, the daily work and data gathering of our counsellors enables us to report on trends and issues. To that end, the SMRC provides essential analysis and feedback based on accumulated case data to the CAF, thereby contributing to a workplace where harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour will be eliminated.

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