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Stettler-based sexual assault group responds to funding announcement

The Alberta government recently announced additional funding for the province’s 15 sexual assault centres. (Black Press file photo)

While final details of funding for provincial sexual assault centres have yet to be worked out, local organizations say that the funds will go a long way in expanding services in the Stettler region.

On April 30, the Government of Alberta announced an additional $10 million in funding over three years to support the province’s 15 sexual assault centres.

According to the release announcing the funding, this will bring annual investment to around $17 million in 2024-25 and 2025-26, with a $4 million increase planned for 2026-27.

“Too many Albertans are faced with the traumatic impacts of sexual violence. That’s why it is so important to strengthen sexual assault centres and their ability to support and empower survivors, no matter where they are on their healing journey,” said Searle Turton, Minister of Children and Family Services, in the release.

According to Stephanie Hadley, the director of Stettler’s Association of Communities Against Abuse (ACAA), the funding will allow the agency to “increase resources for survivors, program capacity, and ensure all Albertans have timely support when needed.”

Another area Hadley is hoping to expand is preventative education, something her organization is seeing an increased demand for.

“There’s been tons of demand for education,” said Hadley.

“There’s been interest in adult, community, and school education.”

According to Hadley, an early understanding of rights and consent in youth can go a long way toward preventing sexual assaults in the first place.

During the COVID pandemic, Hadley says that the organization developed some education programs for the community, however, there hasn’t been a “huge” budget to be able to offer them.

The hope is with the newly announced funding, new facilitators will be able to be brought on to offer the education programs in ACAA’s region.

Hadley continues that the increased funds are a good start amid increasing demand for ACAA’s services; when she started in 2011, ACAA received around 30 intakes a year. Now, 11 years later, intakes have soared to around 200 people seeking ACAA’s services.

“Until preventative work shows an impact, I don’t see (those numbers) decreasing,” said Hadley.

While demands for service have been increasing, particularly during COVID, Hadley says that a modified service model which now includes triage has been helping those who need it get into care faster.

Efforts have also been undertaken to ensure that the basic needs of those who need support are being met.

“It’s hard to do that (trauma) work if basic needs aren’t met,” said Hadley.

Those needs can include helping out with things like food and shelter.

A new group, which has started in the last year called Bridges, is also helping, says Hadley.

Bridges is a pre-therapy support group which allows people to be better prepared “and even eager” to begin the trauma work they need to deal with.

Bridges is one of four new support groups that ACAA has started in the last year to help survivors of sexual abuse.

Other groups include an eight-week psycho-education group that can be done before, during or after trauma work and two other support groups for both youth and older women.

“They’ve been great environments for people to have conversations,” said Hadley.

ACAA provides five core services in the Stettler region.

The services offered to sexual assault survivors are coordination and collaboration, counselling, education and awareness, specialized criminal justice navigation, and outreach.

Other core services offered by sexual assault centres in the province are crisis response, education and awareness. and volunteer and offender services.

Funding from the province can only be used to offer the core services, says Hadley. Some centres may offer two of the services, while others may offer all eight.

Hadley says that sexual assault directors from around the province will be meeting with the minister later in May to “discuss priorities” and establish how the new provincial funds are used.

ACAA’s share of the new funds will be known at that point.

Serving East Central Alberta, ACAA provides services to an area bordered by Highway 14 in the north, Highway 9 in the south, Highway 21 in the west and the Saskatchewan border in the east.

For more information about ACAA, check out

Kevin Sabo

About the Author: Kevin Sabo

I’m Kevin Sabo. I’ve been a resident of the Castor area for the last 12 years and counting, first coming out here in my previous career as an EMT.
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