The Assaulted Women's and Children's Counsellor/Advocate program provides students with a feminist analysis of the political and counselling issues related to gender-based violence experienced primarily by self-identified women, children, trans and non-binary survivors. It trains students to be agents for change in their work of community education, political action and law reform. It prepares students to provide anti-oppressive counselling for survivors who have experienced or are experiencing gender-based violence.
Note: Some of our student placement partners require students in this program to have a police reference check completed before their field placement. These reference checks, which can take up to four months, are done to protect the clientele of these agencies, who are considered “vulnerable persons” under the law. The fees for the reference checks vary and must be paid by the student. Students are responsible for ensuring that the check covers appropriateness for “individuals being employed and/or volunteering who will be working with vulnerable person(s).” Students who are unable to provide a clear police reference check may find that their choice of placements is limited.
Field education plays an important role in this program by preparing students to work with those affected by gender-based violence including not only those directly impacted, but the communities within which they live and work. This often includes those who identify as trans and non-binary, and other disenfranchised populations.
In year one, students will spend 250 hours with a non-profit community partner (Mondays and Tuesdays, January – April) and will typically engage in introductory activities, such as shadowing staff, conducting outreach, fundraising and special events, and learning about how programs and services are developed. First-year placements vary and can include sites that focus on public education, food banks, drop-ins and political action work, but are generally not frontline positions.
In second year, students will build on that experience by engaging in more direct 1-to-1 survivor counselling, group facilitation, case management, and advocacy. Placements begin in September and continue through to the end of April for a minimum of 500 hours. Students will often do this placement at emergency shelters, rape crisis centres, youth services, health providers and other agencies who provide frontline support.
The agencies used by the program for field placements are very similar to those employing our graduates. In many instances, employers hire graduates because of contact and experience with them through the fieldwork placement. Most agencies are within Toronto, while some agencies, located in other communities such as Brampton, St. Catherines, London, Hamilton, Barrie, Pickering and Oshawa, provide students who live in those communities with placement opportunities.