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Funding shortfall in services that help sexual violence victims 'causing further harm' - report

Neglect by successive governments of services that help victims of sexual violence "is causing further harm to people who have experienced sexual violence", with the partial funding model a "significant part of the problem," according to a new report.

Action Station released a report today which looked at the annual reports of 38 agencies. Overall Government covered only $24.7 million in funding, causing a shortfall of $7 million of the total cost to run the agencies of $31.7 million. 

"Partial funding hinders the capacity of people who work in sexual violence support and intervention services to provide outreach... build relationships in communities or even meet existing demand," the report said.

The report said in order to address sexual violence, as a leading cause of trauma for Māori women, agencies "must begin with an understanding of Kaupapa Māori frameworks and an analysis of colonial violence".

"Services and those who deliver them must value whakapapa and whānau connection, over treating survivors as individuals."

It found that the Crown’s obligations to Māori women were not being met under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, saying the high levels of sexual violence, and the underfunding of prevention and support services was failing Māori. 

It also criticised the lack of specialised rainbow sexual violence services. "People in rainbow communities are unlikely to seek help from mainstream violence support services, and when they do seek help, they report negative experiences— the majority of which relate to homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia."

The report interviewed people who work with survivors of sexual harm.

Wellington agency HELP is contracted to work with 300 sex abuse victims a year, but over the past decade it’s been dealing with 700.

Forty people are on a three-month wait list at HELP.

The chief executive Conor Twyford said wait lists are the “the worst thing you can do to a survivor of sexual violence.”

One of the social workers at HELP, Shelley Brown, has 95 cases on her list – about three times what she should have.

She said it can be stressful and she ends up doing regular overtime.

Telling people they have to go on a waiting list was “really hard,” she said.

Conor Twyford says she is worried about staff with such big caseloads. “It’s not healthy to have that many people you’re trying to hold and care for at the same time.”

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said it was “not good enough” that agencies have to fundraise to make up the shortfall. She said there would be extra funding to address sexual violence in next month’s budget but didn’t say how much.

Action Station made recommendations to fix the issues the sector was facing which included a significant increase in funding by Government.

The recommendations also included consent and healthy relationship education in all secondary, primary and ECE schools, making Kaupapa Māori specialist services available across New Zealand and to increase funding for culturally-appropriate, accessible specialist sexual violence.

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That’s according to a new report from community group Action Station. Source: 1 NEWS