FREDERICTON (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant, who is also the minister responsible for women’s equality, signed a declaration with the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre recognizing May as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in New Brunswick.

“Violence against women is one of society’s most heartbreaking issues,” said Gallant. “The threat posed to women by gender-based violence is all too real. We must all do more to change attitudes, provide more support and improved responses to victims and survivors, and demonstrate how sexual violence will not be accepted in our communities.”

The theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018 is Change Happens Here. This theme provides an opportunity to highlight the progress and important changes that have happened in the province due to the work of all the partners and stakeholders as well as the changes that still need to take place in order to ensure that New Brunswick is a province free from sexual violence.

The Women’s Equality Branch is investing more than $1.5 million in initiatives that provide much-needed services to women and their children in the province. Some examples of initiatives include Domestic Violence Outreach, Second Stage Housing Program and the Provincial Strategy on Sexual Assault Services.

Following the provincewide Sexual Crimes Review, the Department of Justice and Public Safety brought together a stakeholder group to examine and make recommendations about opportunities to improve police service delivery in the investigation of and response to sexual assault and victims and survivors of sexual assault.

This May, the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre, the Women’s Equality Branch, the violence prevention networks all over the province as well as the South East Sexual Assault Centre in Moncton, the Boreal Centre in Dieppe and Le centre l’Éclipse in Edmundston, are participating in the annual provincewide Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

These organizations are committed to ending sexual violence against women and children and strive to meet that goal through public education and awareness programs and providing direct services to those affected by sexual violence.

“Your government is proud to work together with our partners in efforts to eliminate violence against women and create safe, respectful communities that challenge behaviours that promote sexual violence,” said Gallant.

Advancing women’s equality is an area of focus identified in the New Brunswick Family Plan Framework. The report identifies five key steps to achieving that goal: recruiting more women to fill positions of influence, enhancing gender equality, enhancing pay equity, increasing access to services and supports for victims of intimate partner violence and removing barriers to access and opportunities.