A Q&A with Bre Woligroski from the Sexual Violence Resource Centre
The University of Manitoba is pleased to launch the new Sexual Violence Resource Centre (SVRC), which will serve as a central hub for those who have been directly impacted by sexual violence at UM.
Bre Woligroski is the Sexual Violence Resource Centre Coordinator. She answers some key questions about the centre.
What is the Sexual Violence Resource Centre?
Bre Woligroski: The Sexual Violence Resource Centre provides support, resources, information and referral services for any student, faculty or staff member who has been affected by sexual violence. Staff at the SVRC are available to assist in assessing needs, clarifying options, identifying next steps, and coordinating a plan to support those directly affected by sexual violence or who are supporting someone they are concerned for.
Why is it needed?
BW: The University of Manitoba has a commitment to ensure that it is providing a respectful workplace and learning environment, and the SVRC is an important part of that commitment. Sexual violence can impact a person’s life in a number of different ways – because of this, it is important that those who experience sexual violence know there is support for them on campus. SVRC staff are aware of the complexities of these impacts, which is why we strive to create a safe atmosphere where members of the UM community can have somebody to talk to, and where they can access confidential assistance in a supportive atmosphere.
What supports and services will the resource centre provide?
BW: The SVRC will act as a hub, connecting members of the University of Manitoba community with on-campus and off-campus resources to assist them. SVRC staff are available to answer individual inquiries, and can assist in providing information on related resources. For example, we can assist in connecting students with on-campus resources such as counselling, while letting them know about relevant university policies and their options regarding a particular situation.
Anybody from the UM community can access the Centre: those who have experienced sexual violence themselves, or those who want to support someone who has. All services are confidential, and staff will not pressure anyone to take any particular course of action. Choice is very important, and we want to ensure the person accessing support understands the next steps in the process and that our role is to support them through that process.
In addition to individual supports, SVRC staff are also involved in campus-wide and cross-campus education and prevention initiatives, and will provide expertise on best practices, policies and procedures in regards to sexual violence.
Will the support and services be confidential? How will the Resource Centre manage this?
BW: Privacy is extremely important, and we are highly committed to maintaining confidentiality for those who access our services. We offer drop-in hours as well as personal appointment times. We have a number of private offices available to us in order to maximize privacy. We also have a confidentiality statement which we carefully and intentionally adhere to. There are some legal limitations in regard to confidentiality; however, we outline these cases as clearly as we can to make sure the person accessing services knows where that line is and can make informed decisions about their situation.
Who will be providing the support to people accessing the Resource Centre? What training do they have?
BW: Right now the SVRC has two staff, myself and the Confidential Intake and Triage Specialist. My position is SVRC Coordinator, and I bring a strong background in student services, sexual violence, sexual health, and community development. Courtney, our Confidential Intake and Triage Specialist, is a registered social worker and has worked supporting folks who have experienced interpersonal violence as well as mental health concerns.
When will it open and where can the UM community find it?
BW: The Centre will open on January 27. We are located at 537 UMSU University Centre, a space that is both accessible and private. Those who want to access the Centre can contact us by email, phone or by visiting us during our drop-in hours – just call ahead to find out what hours are available that day. Appointments are available throughout the week, and we are committed to making the Centre as accessible as possible, accommodating individual schedules and needs whenever we can. We hope to create a space that is safe for all those looking to learn about or access our services.
The SVRC is located at 537 UMSU University Centre and can be accessed via phone, email, on a drop-in basis, or by appointment by contacting Courtney Klassen, Confidential Intake and Triage Specialist, at svrc [at] umanitoba [dot] ca or 204-474-6562.
Congrats to the UM community for pushing for and developing this important resource, and to Bre and Courtny.