The good news is that a national survey on Domestic Violence (DV) and its impact on the workforce, was circulated in 2014 and, thanks to this initial work by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and an amazing team at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) – there is ongoing work rolling right across the country. The bad news is that back in 2014, this survey’s uptake wasn’t strong in Atlantic Canada. There weren’t enough surveys completed for the results to be ‘statistically significant.’ So, the first task for the DV@WORK-NL team was to re-jig the original 2014 survey – and launch it again!

We are determined to increase participation in the survey in Newfoundland and Labrador! We want to ensure that, along with key cross-provincial comparisons that the data from the survey will offer, we will also be able to provide and analyse some new kinds of data – specifically relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador. So…

This summer involved considerable consultation with a whole host of partners. This involved painstaking edits to the original survey by NAWN, OAWA, NLFL, the Mokami Status of Women Council – along with feedback from our own board at the St. John’s Status of Women Council, and feedback by the Canadian Federation of Students at Memorial University and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP) here in St. John’s – just to name a few. By the end of the summer our survey was carefully re-jigged with Newfoundland and Labrador in mind!

  • International students at MUN recommended some new questions that relate specifically to ‘precarious labour.’ They challenged us to gather data on students working inside the university itself and outside in precarious, part-time jobs. They also encouraged us to look carefully at how immigrants and refugees might be intercepting workplace supports.
  • Key activists from SHOP pointed out that working alone (or even isolated in a home office) might offer additional/unique challenges to women in need of resources.
  • Rich discussions in Corner Brook helped identify the way DV can impact LGBTQ2S survivors. Just as an example, without the right emergency supports, an abuser and their victim could find themselves in the same room in a shelter!

This much is clear: when it comes to examining the way DV impacts our workplaces – critical resources need to be both identified and developed. The support provided in our workplaces via coworkers and employers – can play an integral role in how things play out. Preliminary discussions and interviews have made us even more determined to angle in on key demographics that have, to date, been sidelined out of community discussions. Needless to say – our list of questions is growing daily.

After the editing was completed, the survey was quickly sent back into supportive hands at the Centre for Research and Education Woman and Children (CREWAC) at UWO. We were all so excited to see the online survey activated and so grateful for the ongoing support from CREWAC. Special thanks is owed to the CLC, who shared outreach ideas, press kits and resources and especially to Robyn Pike here at the St. John’s Status of Women Council, who brought the local campaign to life with some expertly crafted posters and press releases.

We are excited to report that on this front – there is still more to come; the survey outreach-team is not finished yet! The more surveys we manage to have filled out over the next few months – the more accurate our data will be here in Newfoundland and Labrador – and the better resources will be able to both identify and build. If you have already filled out the survey yourself – you can help the team enormously by sharing the link with family and friends and co-workers. The survey link will be active until January 2019 – but don’t wait until then! https://sjwomenscentre.ca/dvatworknl/


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Drop-in Counselling Program Successfully Completes Pilot Project

The Right Here, Right Now (RHRN) drop-in counselling clinic, the region’s first and only drop-in counselling clinic for women, today releases a comprehensive evaluation of their innovative pilot program.

The Right Here, Right Now Drop-In Counselling Initiative represents a partnership between the St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre (SJSWC/WC) and the School of Social Work at Memorial University. The initiative was led by Dr. Catherine de Boer, Associate Professor with the School of Social Work. Memorial’s Office of Public Engagement provided $10,000 in funding for the design and evaluation of the project.

Over the course of the six-month pilot, a total of 156 counselling sessions were offered to 78 women. The primary concern of women coming for counselling was their mental health, (e.g., anxiety, depression, PTSD) relationships, and trauma.

According to the evaluation results, the pilot of the RHRN counselling clinic was a resounding success. Women who utilized the service found it useful, with many choosing to return for repeat sessions or to engage in other programs offered by the Women’s Centre. As hoped, RHRN did provide a necessary stop gap for women awaiting traditional mental health services within the region. The evaluation noted that 32 per cent of women who utilized the service were on waitlists for “traditional” mental health services, with a mean wait time of 15.5 months. The average length of the RHRN service, from intake through the wait time and a completed counselling session was 90 minutes.

The evaluation found the RHRN drop-in counselling clinic to offer a useful, relevant, and responsive service for women in the community. Counselling sessions continue to be offered through the program twice a week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Women’s Centre from 12-5 p.m. The SJSWC/WC is seeking sustaining funding for the program with the goal of continuing to offer it long-term. The complete pilot program evaluation is available for download here. 

“At the Women’s Centre we saw a huge gap in the availability of mental health services, especially for women, that we wanted to address. With the guidance of Dr. Catherine de Boer we were able to develop an in-house, first of its kind therapeutic model that works. It quickly became evident that responsive community organizations have a unique ability to deliver quality services with limited financial resources and the project evaluation demonstrates that. We cannot downplay the benefits of a counselling program placed within a community organization – women came for counselling, but then they connected to other programs and found a sense of community. I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished.”

Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council

“The success of this pilot project is a testament to what can be accomplished when universities and community partners truly work collaboratively. This project worked because we shared a common vision – to offer a service that was accessible, women-focused and useful. I am humbled by the trust women placed in us and this drop-in counselling initiative and so pleased the six-month pilot was a success.”

Catherine de Boer
Associate Professor, School of Social Work
Memorial University


    • The Right Here, Right Now drop-in counselling clinic is the region’s first and only drop-counselling clinic operating out of a community organization.
    • 78 women came through the doors during the six-month pilot and 156 sessions were offered.
    • 86 per cent of the women used the RHRN clinic as a short-term counselling service, (i.e., came for either one or two sessions) which was the intention of the program.
    • Every woman who came for service was seen on the same day, the average length of service (including the intake and counselling session) was 90 minutes.
    • 64 per cent of the women who received drop-in counselling had never accessed services at the Women’s Centre before – 50 per cent of these “new” women remained engaged by either returning for additional counselling or by attending other programs at the St. John’s Women’s Centre.
    • The primary presenting concern of women coming in for counselling was their mental health, specifically anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, and addictions.


 Media Contacts
Jenny Wright
Executive Director
St. John’s Status of Women Council
Tel. 709.753.0220

Catherine de Boer
Associate Professor, School of Social Work
Memorial University
Tel. 709.743.4500

About St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre 
The St. John’s Status of Women Council/Women’s Centre is a feminist organization that since 1972 is continually working to achieve equality and justice through political activism, community collaboration and the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all women in the St. John’s area. The St. John’s Status of Women Council operates the Women’s Centre, Marguerite’s Place Supportive Housing Program and the Safe Harbour Outreach Project.