This was an exciting year for the VEGA Project! Here’s what we’ve been up to:
Winter and spring were focused on finalizing our systematic review for identifying and responding to child maltreatment. The Child Maltreatment Evidence Review Group (CM-ERG) evaluated seven GRADE evidence-to-decision (EtD) frameworks, and formulated guidance statements for identification, initial response, and psychosocial intervention and referral. A summary of findings from the draft guidance was reviewed by our National Guidance and Implementation Committee (NGIC) during the June 2017 meeting in Ottawa.
In addition to the evidence reviews and draft guidance statements, the June NGIC meeting focused on inter-professional referral pathways for adults and children exposed to family violence, as well as progress on VEGA’s curricular framework and accreditation considerations, including further discussion of curriculum delivery options. As part of this component, Dr. Steve Wilcox of Wilfred Laurier University and the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute presented findings from a VEGA-commissioned White Paper on the use of serious gaming technology for curriculum delivery. As well, Mike Heinrich of Reframe Health Lab presented on the use of digital white boards to facilitate user-friendly learning.
The idea of a VEGA Practice Handbook: Recognizing and Responding Safely to Family Violence was presented to NGIC members as an online, practice-focused set of protocols, tools, scripts and support to assist health and social providers interacting with clients and patients. Finally, we discussed how to integrate user feedback at various stages of product development to determine how and when to best consult with those using, or impacted by, VEGA guidance and curriculum. A number of NGIC members offered assistance with this process.
Throughout the first half of the year, VEGA was presented at various venues; for example, Harriet presented a plenary address at the University of Toronto Annual Conference on Child & Youth Mental Health in Toronto, ON, and the Annual Symposium of l’Association des médecins en protection de l’enfance du Québec (AMPEQ) in Montreal, QC. Nadine was a keynote presenter at the Waypoint Mental Health Research Institute’s annual conference in Barrie, ON. To provide a user-friendly overview of VEGA for attendees of these meetings, an infographic was prepared, which now resides on our website’s homepage. More details are available in our VEGA Newsletters.
Summer was busy with the drafting of VEGA’s Core Competency Framework, which underpins both the Practice Handbook and the Foundational Curriculum. We also worked with Reframe Health Lab to create a “user friendly” white board explaining “Trauma-and Violence-Informed Care (TVIC) core concepts” and another entitled “Why VEGA?” that will serve as a brief overview to VEGA and its importance to health and social service providers and leaders. Steve Wilcox is leading the design of the initial interactive gaming scenarios in IPV and child maltreatment, based on these core competencies. We plan to review both the VEGA game modules and animated whiteboards at the March 2018 NGIC meeting in Ottawa.
Fall was a continuation of these activities, with a focus on developing a full draft of the VEGA Practice Handbook, which will also be presented at the upcoming NGIC meeting. As prototypes are developed, we will consult with experts and end users to ensure fit and usability for various practice contexts and learners.
VEGA’s knowledge mobilization activities have accelerated: in September, Nadine and Curriculum Content Lead, Susan Jack, travelled to Rio de Janeiro to present work from VEGA and related PreVAiL Research Network Projects at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI). In addition, Harriet presented at Calgary’s National Forum on Innovations in Infant, Child, and Youth Mental Health in October. Together Harriet and Nadine were keynote speakers at the World Health Organization’s 8th Milestones in a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention meeting in Ottawa. Here, key international violence decision-makers were informed about the VEGA Project, and best practices in various aspects of family violence intervention were discussed, taking a global perspective but featuring Canadian initiatives. Finally, in November, Harriet presented at the Mental Health Innovations in Canada event at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC; this was hosted by the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL), in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
See our VEGA Newsletters for additional details, upcoming events, and spotlights on our NGIC members. We’re also developing a new section called “Family Violence Champions” which will highlight the efforts of our NGIC partners in forwarding this work. Keep an eye out for our January 2018 edition!
Winter has arrived once again but it certainly isn’t slowing us down! Harriet travelled to Geneva in early December with Post-Doctoral Fellow, Jill McTavish, and Project Manager, Chris McKee, to co-Chair the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Child Maltreatment Guideline Development Group for the WHO Guidelines on the health sector response to child maltreatment. Although WHO’s guidelines are focusing on low- and middle-income countries, and VEGA’s guidance has been developed for Canada, both are working together to identify the best existing evidence for responding to child maltreatment based on systematic reviews.
Finally, we are developing a knowledge mobilization (KMob) workshop for the March 2018 NGIC meeting where we will discuss strategies that NGIC members can use in engaging with their organizations and members to ensure that VEGA reaches its intended audiences. This interactive session will have partners work through scenarios to see how various best practices in KMob can be tailored to their unique contexts.
It’s been a busy year, and one of excellent engagement between VEGA and our NGIC partners, and broader stakeholders. We thank everyone for their continued commitment to the project, and our shared goal of providing a strong educational foundation for health and social service responses to adults and children experiencing family violence and its consequences.
Happy Holidays, and all the best for a happy and productive 2018!