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November 21, 2005
Staffer receives award for helping victims of domestic violence
Toronto Social Services (TSS) staff member Barbara Mills has received the 2005
“Above and Beyond” Award of Excellence for her 20 years of work and volunteer
achievements in the area of domestic violence.

A 23-year member of the Toronto Public Service, Mills is a methods analyst with
the City’s Lesmill Learning Centre. She is responsible for researching methods
to teach TSS staff about the complexities and dynamics of domestic abuse. Women
who leave abusive situations and require financial and other support frequently
access Ontario Works. Approximately one third of women receiving social
assistance in Ontario have experienced physical, mental, and/or emotional abuse
according to a conservative estimate in a 2004 report by York University.

This year, Mills serves as the subject expert for a training program to educate
all TSS supervisors and managers on issues related to domestic violence and
interventions to support TSS clients who are survivors. She will continue this
work in 2006 when the program is delivered to all TSS staff. The provincially
mandated program was developed in response to the February 2002 Hadley Inquest
and related recommendations. Gillian Hadley was murdered in June 2000 by her
husband Ralph Hadley.

“Our staff are trained to recognize the signs of abuse and to understand the
abused client in order to provide responsive and supportive client service that
demonstrates respect and understanding,” said Mills.

Mills, who has first-hand experience of domestic violence, has a message for
women suffering from abuse. “You’re not alone and it’s not your fault.” She
advises women in these situations who are seeking assistance to contact the
Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 416 863-0511 ( a 24-hour/ seven-day-a-week
service in 154 languages) or to contact Toronto Social Services at 416 397-0330.

Outside of the workplace, Mills is an active lecturer who dedicates her spare
time to speaking in Canada and the United States on domestic violence.

Her volunteer accomplishments include:
  • In 1999, she established Sisters in Solidarity (SIS), a non-profit support group for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Mills volunteers hundreds of hours to the women who have accessed the support group. SIS is a member of the Metro Toronto Action Committee Against Violence of Women and Children.
  • As President of the Muriel Collins Housing Co-operative over a 15-year period, Mills was instrumental in implementing a domestic violence-free bylaw for the housing development.
  • She lobbied for and acted as the Toronto Project Co-ordinator for the Domestic Violence Emergency Response System, which was launched in 1999.
  • She has expert witness status with the criminal and family courts and the Criminal Injuries Board.
  • Mills was appointed, and continues to serve as a member of the Advisory Panel to the Toronto College Park Domestic Courts.

Mills is a recipient of the Y.W.C.A. 2003 Peace Medallion and the City of
Toronto’s Canada Day Achievement Award for her work with and advocacy on behalf
of victims of domestic violence.

“My reward is seeing courageous women begin the healing process while they
strive to live a violence-free life for themselves and their children,” said
Mills. She talks of a special and recent reward when “a little boy by the name
of Daniel called and referred to me as special Barbara because he believes that
I saved his mom from being hurt.”

The “Above and Beyond” Award of Excellence is given to staff of Toronto Social
Services who have been nominated by their peers for going above and beyond in
the performance of their duties in response to an event or situation, or for
individual lifetime achievement.

Media contact:

Heather MacVicar
General Manager
Toronto Social Services
416 392-8952



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