1. Where does the name ORCA come from?
ORCA is an acronym for “Organized Response to Child Abuse” reflecting the fundamental goal of working collaboratively to meet needs of children and youth. The Orca is a whale residing in BC’s west coast waters, known for strong social bonds and stable group structure, representing the support network needed to ensure safety and a strong community response to child sexual abuse. The Orca is also a symbol of strength and beauty - conducive to child friendly imagery and a positive and instantly recognizable public image.
2. Why is ORCA Centre called a “children’s advocacy centre”?
The word “advocacy” is sometimes confusing for people who are not familiar with the Children’s Advocacy Centre (CAC) model. The model originated in the United States where victim assistance workers are known as “victim advocates” and the victim assistance/advocate role is central to the CAC model. “Child advocacy” also comes from the “children’s rights movement” and United Nations discussions and policies about the rights of child and youth victims of crime. In time, the term children’s advocacy centre will be more familiar in Canada, as Children’s Advocacy Centres are being established across the country.
3. Who will receive services from ORCA Centre?
While the scope of ORCA Centre’s services will continue to be discussed and developed it is intended that ORCA Centre will:
- - Serve child and youth (ages 0-18) victims of sexual abuse and/or serious cases of physical abuse and non-offending family members.
- - Provide direct services in Greater Victoria and outreach services upon request to Vancouver Island communities (for example, a police officer from another community may call to consult with officers working at ORCA Centre).
4. Does Victoria need a children’s advocacy centre?
Yes! Child and youth victims of sexual and physical abuse deserve the best possible response when they find the courage and opportunity to disclose abuse. The current service response in Greater Victoria is often fragmented, uncoordinated and not focused on the unique needs of children and youth. The problem is complicated by the existence of multiple police services, varying levels of specialization and jurisdictional issues. Victim support is frequently not accessed and important information is often not shared among involved professionals. Efforts to improve the multidisciplinary response to child abuse cases over the years have not addressed these gaps. ORCA Centre will bring professionals together to provide an organized, child-friendly, expert response which:
- - Minimizes trauma to vulnerable victims/witnesses
- - Optimizes victim assistance and support
- - Ensures expert forensic interviewing and overall investigative and prosecutorial effectiveness
- - Provides expert outreach services to other Vancouver Island communities
5. Will ORCA Centre duplicate or replace existing services in Victoria? Will all services be provided at ORCA Centre?
No. ORCA Centre will help coordinate existing services involved in investigations and prosecutions. Formal arrangements are still being discussed with partner agencies, so we can’t say for certain which professionals will work out of the centre. Most CACs have police, child protection workers and victim advocates on-site. We anticipate that Crown prosecutors will spend time with child and youth victims and witnesses at ORCA Centre, but they may continue to work out of their own offices. Most medical assessment services will likely be provided off-site. Mary Manning Centre and other counselling agencies will continue to operate as they currently do, receiving referrals and providing counselling to children and youth at their centres.
6. Will children live at the Children’s Advocacy Centre?
No. Children will not live at ORCA Center. Children and youth come to the Center for victim support, forensic interviews and other related services, but no one will actually reside in the building.
7. Where will ORCA Centre be located?
A preliminary plan has been developed to explore all considerations and requirements for the ORCA Centre site. The location of ORCA Centre will be a very important decision. The identification of a site will take into account many issues such as accessibility, public transportation, confidentiality, security. Commitments of financial support for the development and operation of ORCA Centre are needed in order for the site planning process to proceed further.
8. How will ORCA Centre be funded?
Children’s Advocacy Centres are typically funded by a combination of government grants and donations from foundations, organizations and individuals. ORCA Children’s Advocacy Centre Society is seeking provincial government funding for the core operations of ORCA Centre. While many important discussions and decisions about provincial funding have yet to take place, consultations with other jurisdictions suggest that a formula of 85% government funding and 15% donations may ensure organizational capacity and sustainability. An operating budget has been drafted for ORCA Centre for discussion.
9. Can Victoria afford a Children’s Advocacy Centre?
Yes. Perhaps a better question is “can Victoria afford not to have a Children’s Advocacy Centre”? Children’s Advocacy Centres are very cost effective, with studies and reports suggesting savings of between 36% and 45% per case. Some experts also suggest that CACs have contributed to an overall reduction in child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is known to have an enormous societal cost, with Canadian research indicating an economic cost of approximately 15 billion dollars per year. Establishing and operating ORCA Children’s Advocacy Centre will result in financial cost savings and more importantly, a decrease in the human costs of child sexual abuse, which are immeasurable.
10. Is child sexual abuse really a serious problem in Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island?
While precise figures on prevalence are difficult to ascertain, sexual abuse of children and youth is a deadly serious problem affecting thousands of young people in Vancouver Island communities. Based on historical prevalence rates and 2006 census data for Greater Victoria, it is reasonable to estimate that 12,500 children and youth in our community will experience sexual abuse by the time they reach 19 years of age. This would mean that on average, about 694 children and youth are victims of sexual abuse in any given year (given that child sexual abuse often occurs over many years, the annual numbers are likely much higher). While some recent U.S. studies have shown a decrease in reports of sexual abuse in some jurisdictions, there is no evidence to suggest that significant decreases have occurred in our community. While child sexual abuse can be devastating, providing the kind of supportive response associated with children’s advocacy centres can make a huge difference in a young person’s healing and recovery. Child sexual abuse is one of the most important issues facing our community. With your support, we can help stop the cycle of abuse and ensure an appropriate response when child sexual abuse is reported or discovered