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SAIT addressing violence head on

Person speaking to an audience.

SAIT will host a violence risk triage workshop in Calgary next month as a proactive approach to identifying and acting on risks.

The threat of violence to front-line workers is closer than many think — that's the message being delivered at a violence risk triage workshop in Calgary next month.

Presented by the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), the day-long event Monday, March 12 will discuss the prevalence, nature and impact of violence in workplaces and in education, as well as the professional responsibilities related to identifying and responding to violence risk.

Threat assessment specialist Dr. Kelly Watt, recognized as one of the best in her field, will be leading the workshop. She says the risk of violence impacts everyone.

"Violence is occurring in our own backyards on a frequent basis," she says. "Often, it is just not being recognized, reported, documented or communicated."

Watt cites studies that report 10-25% of all workers have directly experienced workplace violence, while 80% have witnessed it. She says front-line workers in higher education, health care, social services and criminal justice are most at risk.

"It is important for front-line workers to know about violence risk triage because they are often victims of actual, attempted or threatened violence," she says.

"And lethal violence is just the tip of the iceberg. More attention needs to be given to all the other types of violence that are a hundred times more common and are happening around us every day."

Workshop open to the public

At the workshop, which is open to the public, Watt will lead attendees in learning how to identify primary and secondary warning signs that could be used to help prevent violence, how to prioritize cases and how to determine what immediate actions to take.

Watt will also outline a violence risk triage process and participants will work through some practice cases together. The day will end with a discussion about information sharing and risk communication.

"You will leave with foundational knowledge about violence risk triage and will have the skills to put it into practice," says Watt, noting the workshop will also be relevant to managers, supervisors and teams who will be receiving reports related to violence risk and making decisions about immediate actions.

Michael Sondermann, Associate Registrar and a founder of SAIT's Behavioural Intervention Team, says the institution came up with the workshop as part of its ongoing efforts to maintain a safe space for everyone on campus.

"Part of this workshop is to show the greater Calgary community we care about violence risk assessment and are leaders in violence risk triage education," he says.

"Schools are often a flashpoint of concern. We're here to say that we care about it, we know about it and we are doing something about it."

Sondermann adds it's an opportunity for other employers to show leadership in violence risk triage.

"We should all be able to address risk in a reasonable and scientific way. It keeps us all safe and provides us with a balanced approach to anything that might happen," he says.

Learn more about the workshop, including how to register.

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