The Regina Sexual Assault Centre is calling the province’s new sexual violence program a good start towards helping its clients navigate the legal system.
The Listen Project was launched Tuesday, and offers victims of sexual violence in Saskatchewan up to four hours of free legal advice.
“We have so many (clients) who have questions, asking ‘What is this? What do I need to do here? When do I need to show up in court?’ So I think it’ll be helpful,” said Lisa Miller, the centre’s executive director.
“Speaking with a lawyer will give them an opportunity to hear some realities about our justice system and sexual assault, and give them some facts that will hopefully help them make some informed decisions about reporting or pursuing a civil matter.”
Miller added one incentive for people to take part in the program is there’s no requirement for the incident to have been reported to police beforehand.
“If there’s no strings attached, and there’s no commitment in having to report, I think this may be helpful for some people to talk their case through,” she said, adding the cost of legal aid is often a significant barrier as well.
Miller said it’s her hope the project will lead to victims to eventually have free full legal representation, as that’s what many need most.
“A lot of them need somebody who’s working very strongly on their behalf. I mean, the Crown’s presenting a case, but sometimes they need somebody who will really advocate for them.”