Women's refuge safe house closed

23:00, Apr 03 2014

Insufficient funding has forced Manawatu Women's Refuge to close one of its two safe houses, which opened just a few months ago. Other agencies dealing with abuse and violence are also cutting back in the face of what they say is inadequate government funding.

Women's Refuge manager Ang Jury said yesterday the tenancy of the second home was relin quished to Housing New Zealand a fortnight ago and the remaining house was filled to capacity.

Women's Refuge offers support services to women, youth and children affected by domestic violence. The house that has been closed was a Housing New Zealand home given to the organisation at the end of October last year.

It allowed the refuge to house nine women and about 17 children across two houses instead of just four women and 13 children in the one.

"We couldn't resource the second house in terms of both money and people, so we're back to one," Jury said. Although the refuge would have liked to have kept the second house, it wasn't possible.

"We had no trouble filling both of them when we had them," she said.


Government support through Child, Youth and Family contracts had remained static for years. "We haven't had any increase in government funding for more years than I care to count and that is unlikely to change. The minister has signalled there is no new money," she said.

Funding now covered only about 40 per cent of the refuge's services.

"It's an argument that Refuge nationally has been putting out for quite some time. We over-deliver in terms of our contract. Generally, our contracted volumes are met in the first quarter of any given year.

"If it were the MidCentral DHB or someone like that and we were talking about hip replacements, they would just stop doing hip replace ments until they got their next lot of money. We don't do that. We do our volumes and we just carry on."

Other agencies dealing with violence and abuse are also feeling the pinch. Feilding-based Te Manawa Services manager Julie Miller said court referrals remained steadily high, but the bulk of clients were self-referred and although the number was increasing, funding was not, which meant some services had to be cut back.

"We're turning down a lot of work. We've got a waiting list for the youth and parenting programme because we don't have the funding to have our counsellors working five days a week on that programme. "It used to run five days a week with four counsellors, now it runs three days a week with two counsellors."

Te Manawa Services could no longer afford to send staff for training, nor give them salary increases, which put it at risk.

Abuse and Rape Crisis Support Manawatu manager Ann Kent told a parliamentary inquiry into funding of specialist sexual violence services that the agency expected to see 10 per cent more clients this year than last, and the number of referrals from police had increased by half.

"Our team is exhausted and frustrated by a lack of resources, but we continue to work hard for the services our clients need."

Police statistics out this week show 146 sexual assault and related offences were reported in Manawatu last year, compared to 104 in 2012.

Manawatu Standard