Social Workers start LGBTIQA+ Sensitisation Workshop
Today, August 12, 2020, 28 social workers and social auxiliary workers from funded organisations of the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) are participating in an online workshop being offered by the Triangle Project. The workshop focuses on providing additional tools to individuals working with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning and Asexual (LGBTIQA+) persons, across the Western Cape.
The Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said, “ I welcome this fruitful initiative being facilitated by the provincial Department’s Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP). It is important that we are able to provide services to all our residents, in line with our mandate. This is something I am committed to doing across the province.”
For LGBTIQA+ persons who have experienced stigma, discrimination and violence during their lives, even small mistakes can bring up past negative experiences. Unless we communicate with knowledge and understanding about the health concerns, barriers to care, and other needs that are common among LGBTIQA+ persons, they may not get the services they need (The National LGBTI Health Education Center ,2020).
In recognition of the challenges faced by the LGBTIQA+ community when accessing essential services, Minister Fernandez added, “By sensitizing essential workers to the challenges faced by LGBTIQA+ community, and recognizing Intimate partner violence occur within same sex relationships too, we believe that we will have greater success in being able to provide assistance and support in a manner that is inclusive, affirming and upholds the dignity of all victims of violence.”
The Triangle Project is the oldest LGBTI organisation in South Africa, and has been providing direct services to LGBTI people in the Western Cape for over 20 years. This non-profit organization (NPO) offers professional services to ensure the full realisation of constitutional and human rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons, their partners and families.
The wide array of essential services being offered by the Triangle Project, with the support of the provincial Department of Social Development include counselling and support services for survivors of violence, health and support for LGBTI people living with HIV, support for LGBTI parents and parents of LGBTI children, and support for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
The Department of Social Development Victim Empowerment Programme supported by its service providers in the Western Cape offers a variety of services to support victims which include:
- Ensuring that victims receive emotional and practical support,
- Assisting victims with the management of trauma,
- Ensuring that victims are educated to identify the symptoms of post-traumatic stress,
- Referring victims to professional services where necessary,
- Provision of court support services during the criminal justice process is dealt with efficiently,
- Promoting the rights and responsibilities of victims through advocacy,
- Ensuring that victims are aware of their rights,
- Ensuring that ongoing victimisation is prevented and
- Providing a shelter service.
The provincial Department of Social Development currently funds 20 shelters in the Western Cape that can accommodate victims and their children for up to 3 months, and 4 emergency shelters that accommodate victims for up to 3 weeks.
Shelters also provide for basic needs that include: safe accommodation, protection, food, clothing and emotional support such as trauma debriefing and therapeutic counselling provided by a social worker. To assist with reintegration, victims are also provided with skills development opportunities to assist with the economic empowerment of the victim.
“We remain dedicated and committed to ensuring that our services are inclusive and that they are available to those individuals who are in need. If anyone requires any form of victim-support, please contact us on our hotline number on 0800 220 250, to be connected to your nearest local office,” concluded Minister Fernandez.