Rape crisis line forced to cut staff

Last updated 15:05 19/11/2012

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Auckland's only 24-hour rape crisis helpline is cutting its service due to a funding shortfall.

The HELP Foundation has been forced to drastically reduce emergency services for sexual assault and rape victims and lay off staff after the Government refused to provide $200,000 funding, spokeswoman Aimee Stockenstroom said.

"We have no choice but to cut essential services for victims of rape and sexual abuse despite an earlier government promise to maintain adequate and sustainable funding for the services"

Existing funding would run out next month for the specialist helpline for the victims of sexual assault and rape.

Stockenstroom said they hoped to keep the line operating at limited hours.

Losing the around-the-clock service would hurt victims in need of specialist support, she said.

"A lot of the calls are in the middle of night, when they're having trouble sleeping and the fear is too difficult to deal with."

HELP takes about 12,000 calls a year from victims of sexual assault and rape, or around 250 calls a week. 

The crisis line employed 10 staff. No decision had been made on the number of job losses.

ACC previously funded the helpline, but cut finding in May 2009.

Interim funding was provided until last year, when a cross-agency group comprising the Ministries of Justice, Social Development, Health and ACC was set up to discuss a long-term solution.
 
"Despite working intensely with a range of government departments right up to the last minute and requests to meet with Minister Paula Bennett, we have not obtained sufficient funding to keep the 24-hour telephone crisis line operating," Stockenstroom said.

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