According to policymakers and practitioners working in the field of domestic violence prevention, there is a thirst for research that will help to improve practice and initiate innovative responses at the community level. However, while the ‘will’ exists, the challenge of time, space and access make it difficult for practitioners and other community-based organizations to utilize relevant research. Innovative methods of engagement and communication are needed to bridge the gap between research and its practical application. In response to this, Shift created a one-year community of practice pilot project with the Grande Prairie and Area Family Violence Prevention Network, to focus on building their capacity for primary prevention.
Funded by SSHRC and the Canadian Women’s Foundation, the project draws upon best and emergent practices from research in knowledge translation/mobilization, community of practice models and approaches, social change and primary prevention of domestic violence. The sessions have included a series of lectures, group discussions, reflection, presentations from researchers and field experts with a strong evaluative component.
While the pilot project with Grande Prairie is scheduled to wrap up in June 2013, Medicine Hat is getting started with their own community of practice. Both pilots are being evaluated to develop a “made in Alberta” approach to building and supporting primary prevention activities at the local level to get at preventing domestic violence. Evaluation reports and overall learning’s will be made available in March 2014.