Looking Towards the Future

SMRC priorities

The SMRC has several priorities for fiscal year 2017-2018. A key priority is to implement the provision of service to CAF members on a 24/7 basis. A performance framework will be developed to monitor how this service is received and utilized by members on an ongoing basis, as well as at 6 and 12 months post-implementation.

The SMRC intends to update its mandate document and publish a “Commitment to Members”. These, along with 24/7, should be fully realized by the summer of 2017.

The SMRC, in conjunction with the CSRT-SM, are establishing an External Advisory Council to provide advice to DND and the CAF on addressing harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the CAF.

Given SMRC’s unique mandate to provide support to CAF members affected by harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour, the Centre will continue to enhance its proactive communications, outreach and awareness strategy. This is instrumental to individuals reaching out for services designed to meet their needs.

Likewise, the chain of command needs to be better aware of SMRC services both to direct their members to SMRC if required and to obtain guidance themselves, should they need it in dealing with a situation under their command. To achieve these results, the SMRC will continue to make concerted and consistent efforts to visit additional locations across Canada to engage with CAF members.

The SMRC will continue to strengthen and build relationships with internal and external partners and stakeholders, other government departments and national and international like-minded organizations.

Next steps will include working closely with the CSRT-SM in the development of enhanced victim support (i.e. Peer support, expanded options for reporting, and victim liaison assistance).

The Centre will also review its mandate and client base and consider possible expansion. The Centre will continue to evolve towards a Centre of Excellence to assist the CAF in its goal to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the CAF.

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Potential issues and trends for future analysis and action

Information contained in this section is based on a small sample size. While these findings are anecdotal and cannot as yet be generalized, they are presented as potential issues and trends to track for future analysis and consideration.

The SMRC interaction with CAF members suggests that those who experience harmful and inappropriate sexual behavior are required to navigate numerous services and processes within the military (ex: Chain of Command, Military Police/NIS, JAG, civilian police etc.). This means that, a negative experience at any point along the way, may result in them withdrawing from the process.

Although many of these components work independently, it is important to consider the system as a whole and how it interacts together to best support members. Following a qualitative analysis of cases, it was anecdotally shared by some CAF members that even though all components of the system did their jobs effectively, they felt that their needs were still not met.

Acknowledging the small sample size, trust, support and transparency were the three main topics that arose during the analysis. These three issues are interconnected in that lack of transparency and lack of support often lead to reduced trust in the system as a whole.

There was an expressed need for more support when navigating the services after a situation of harmful and inappropriate sexual behavior. The affected members often stated their desire to be more informed of the steps to come. Information such as what to expect going forward, why certain decisions were made, time frames and key steps in the processes were at times not communicated or understood. For example, some members experienced long delays without having any updates on their case. Others were told that instead of pursuing certain charges, lesser ones would be pursued without being provided an explanation. This resulted in members feeling like  their case was mishandled or not taken seriously.

As a result, some members found themselves second-guessing their experience. This also led to some members perceiving a lack of consequences to perpetrators and concluding that the CAF is indifferent to their situation. Members pointed to situations where both the victim and the alleged perpetrator were assigned to the same course/building/unit while an investigation was ongoing. This type of situation made members feel uncomfortable, unsafe and lacking support. Others expressed feelings of isolation from being left alone at the hospital, having no members of their unit present at the court martial or not being referred  to existing mental health services.

All of these experiences suggest that training, clear policies and enhanced victim support could help to engender trust, increase reporting and increase the chances of someone seeking help.

The SMRC will continue to work collaboratively with the CSRT-SM and the CAF as a whole to not only enhance victim support but to also contribute to the elimination  of harmful and inappropriate sexual behavior.

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