D.A.R.T. - Domestic Assault Review Team of Waterloo Region

Health Engagement Task Force


  1. Engage various partners in the health care sector in responding to and preventing intimate partner violence (IPV).
  2. Engage with community partners in facilitating the health care sector involvement in identification, response and prevention of intimate partner violence.

Goals and Objectives:

  1. Increase awareness of intimate partner violence in the health care sector.
  2. Increase capacity in health care sector for appropriate screening, response and prevention.
  3. Facilitate educational events with health care sector and community partners.
  4. Respond to identified community health sector needs.
  5. Advocate with community providers.
  6. Provide recommendations to DART.
  7. Provide annual report of activities to DART.

Membership (as of October 2019):

Health Care Sector and community partners working with health care sector.

  • Domestic Assault Review Team of Waterloo Region, Coordinator
  • Conestoga College
  • Grand River Hospital
  • John Howard Society
  • Public Services Health & Safety Association
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Waterloo Region Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Treatment Centre

Organizational Structure:

It is a subcommittee of DART which will be facilitated by Chair(s). Term of Chair(s) will be two years.



The United Nations remains a powerful influence on rights, declarations, policies and goals which impact citizens all over the world. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Number 5 Gender Equality and 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions provide goals and indicators to prevent violence.

A resolution declaring violence as a major and growing public health problem across the world was passed in 1996 at the Forty-Ninth World Health Assembly.  In 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) released the document, World report on violence and health which focuses on preventing violence and reducing its impact (WHO, 2002). The public health approach utilizes a scientific approach to identify and evaluate evidence- based best practices and promotes intersectoral collaboration and action.  This document has influenced the work in many countries including Canada who hosted the WHO 8th Milestones of a Global Campaign for Violence Prevention Meeting in Ottawa in 2017.  It is also the framework for the Violence Prevention Charter (Prevention of Violence Canada) developed in Canada and signed by Waterloo Region in 2017.The WHO works internationally with other organizations and countries to focus on a public health approach to family violence throughout the lifespan. Inspire (WHO, 2017) and the Nurturing Care Framework (WHO, 2018) are two reports which focus on the promotion of child well-being and prevention of child maltreatment. Organizations from many sectors including health collaborate together to prevent, reduce and respond to domestic violence (WHO, 2002, 2004). The Sixty-Seventh World Health Assembly Resolution, Strengthening the role of the health system in addressing violence, in particular against women and girls, and against children passed on May 24, 2014 emphasizes the importance of the health care sector (WHO, 2014).   As well, Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women: WHO clinical and policy guidelines (WHO, 2013) provides guidance to professionals working with women.

End Violence Against Children is another influential organization whose goal is to end violence against children with many private organizations and countries including the United Nations and Canada.


It is recognized that many people choose not to report family violence and further to this there is no way to quantify the cost of human suffering and loss. The Chief Public Health Officer’s of Canada report, Family Violence in Canada estimates the cost of domestic violence alone in Canada to be 7.4 billion dollars per year. 32% of adults reported experiencing child maltreatment as a child and 30% of women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. 80% of the intimate partner violence reported was against women with aboriginal women two time more likely to experience intimate partner violence as a non-aboriginal women. 53% of abuse of older adults is by a family member or acquaintance. There is numerous potential for serious health and social problems across the lifespan related to family violence (PHAC, 2016).

Trauma and violence informed care is providing health and social service providers a framework for practice (PHAC, VEGA, Equip Health Care). Preventing Violence Across the Lifespan (PREVAil) and Violence Evidence Guidance Action (VEGA) carry out research and provide evidence and recommendations for best practice. It is anticipated that national professional guidelines for practice for family violence will be introduced in 2019.  Funding for this has been provided through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).


Provincially the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee and the Centre for Research and Education Against Women and Children are key partners in providing information for health care sectors and partners on intimate partner violence. Neighbours, Friends and Families campaign, DV Education and Making the Connections: When Domestic Violence, Mental Health and Substance Use Problem Co-Occur are all provincially funded resources. Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) focused on responding to domestic violence in the workplace after Bill 168 became Legislation.   Each has played a role in educational events provided by DART.

Waterloo Region

DART Health Engagement Task Force

Locally the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council identified a gap in screening for domestic violence in the health care sector (Region of Waterloo, 2010).  Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services and the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Treatment Centre were involved in awareness and training on intimate partner violence with community partners.  An informal committee of the three organizations grew with involvement of many partners who belonged to DART. Eventually the small committee was requested to become part of DART and became the DART Health Engagement Task Force (DART HETF). Membership of the group is fluid with a small core and other partners join ad hoc for annual events at Conestoga College, the Medical School and most recently the Wilfred Laurier Faculty of Social Work. Events are planned to update health care providers such as the midwives and dental professionals. The DART Coordinator is an active member of the group. Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services and the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre remain a core part of the group and continue to work closely with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. With the advances in legislation in work place responsibility in addressing domestic violence, Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) became an important member, providing a health and safety perspective, at various DART events.  John Howard Society brings the important perspective of programs for perpetrators and supporting the survivors. Conestoga College remains an important partner with over six annual events provided to a growing variety of faculty in health, social services, law and corrections. Grand River Hospital’s focus on inpatients and outpatients connect the community and hospital.

The DART HETF did an extensive literature search for research and best practice and collaborated with experts Dr. Peter Donnelly, Public Health Ontario and Dr. James Mercy, Centre for Disease Control (CDC). A two-sided handout (DART, 2017) was developed  for DART events which highlight the potential serious consequences of family violence and the importance of prevention.  Family Violence May Have Serious Health Consequences was produced with permission from the CDC based on their ongoing research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (Hillis, Mercy & Saul, 2016). The other side of the handout, Family Violence is Preventable is based on research and takes an ecological and lifespan approach and identifies roles of health professionals in preventing family violence.   A presentation on this Handout was provided at the 22nd Conference of the Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International on September 28, 2018 in Niagara-on-the –Lake by the DART Co-Chairs from Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services and Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre.

DART provided a delegation to Community Services Committee, Region of Waterloo on May 16, 2017 represented by the Co-Chair of DART, the Staff Sergeant of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, Domestic Violence Investigation Branch. This accompanied a Report to Council, Engaging the Health Care Sector in Preventing and Responding to Intimate Partner Violence submitted by Crime Prevention Council and Public Health and Emergency Services. The recommendation, “That the Regional Municipality of Waterloo sign the Violence Prevention Charter as a demonstration of our commitment and intent to work in partnership towards achieving a just and peaceful country free of all forms of violence as outlined in report” was passed unanimously.

The Regional Municipality of Waterloo became the first Municipality in Canada to sign the Violence Prevention Charter on October 12, 2018 when it was signed by Regional Chair, Ken Seiling.

The development of a small card for women encouraging them to seek safety planning was developed by DART in 2019. This card will be translated into five languages by the K-W Multicultural Centre. It will be available for DART member organizations and community partners.

The DART HETF collaborates with DART organizations and community partners to increase the awareness of identification, response and prevention of intimate partner violence. The DART Handout and power point presentation along with panelists from DART organizations continue to be the foundation for DART events. It is the multisector, collaborative partnerships within DART and in our community which provides the strength in engaging the health care sector in Waterloo Region. Since 2011 the DART HETF has worked collaboratively and productively in presenting numerous educational and training opportunities for health professionals, workplace health and safety professionals and college and university students.

  1. Hillis, S., Mercy, J. & Saul, J. (2016). The enduing impact of violence against children. Psychology, Health & Medicine. DOI: 10.1080/13548506.2016.1153679.
  2. World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Bank Group. (2018). Nurturing care for early childhood development: a framework for helping children survive and thrive to transform health and human potential. Geneva: World Health Organization.
  3. World Health Organization. (2016).  Inspire: Seven Strategies for Ending Violence Against Children. Geneva: WHO.
  4. World Health Organization. (2013). Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women: WHO clinical and policy guidelines. Geneva: WHO.
  5. World Health Organization. (2010). Violence prevention: An invitation to intersectoral action. Geneva: WHO.
  6. World Health Organization. (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva: WHO.
  7. Public Health Agency of Canada. (2016). The Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2016: A Focus on Family Violence in Canada. Ottawa: Minister of Health.
  8. Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. (2010). The Missing Pieces: An Assessment of Service Assets and Gaps for Offenders and Victims of Interpersonal Violence in Waterloo Region. Waterloo: Region of Waterloo.


  9. Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children Neighbours Friends and Families
  10. End Violence Against Children End Violence Against Children
  11. Equip Health Care Equip Health Care
  12. Prevention of Violence Canada Violence Prevention Charter
  13. Preventing Violence Across the Lifespan (PreVAil) PreVAil
  14. Public Health Agency of Canada Trauma and Violence Informed Care Approaches
  15. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Sustainable Development Goals
  16. Violence Evidence Guidance Action (VEGA) VEGA
  17. World Health Organization Violence Prevention
  18. Women’s College Hospital Online Domestic Violence Education

Family Violence is Preventable: Fact sheets.

Please note that this is for professional use only.