Today's victims tomorrow's abusers

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 14:24 02/04/2014

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Child victims of sex abuse are the next generation of offenders, a parliamentary select committee heard today.

Survivors of rape and abuse, along with agencies working with victims and offenders, spoke at a Wellington hearing on funding of specialist sexual violence services.

Dr Dawn Elder, speaking for the Paediatric Society of New Zealand, said if anything came out of the parliamentary inquiry it should be better funding for prevention, which included services for child victims of abuse.

"This is your next generation of sexual offenders," she said.

"A little investment in children's abnormal behaviour will save a lot of money in Corrections later on."

WellStop chief executive Lesley Ayland, speaking for the harmful sexual behaviour sector, said funding was "piecemeal" and her organisation had 14 short-term contracts with different agencies for different services.

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust Wellington regional manager Richard Brewer said he funded the first two years of the organisation's peer support service out his KiwiSaver fund just to prove it worked.

Counsellor and survivor Ripeka August-Tampeau said better funding was desperately needed, particularly for better services for Maori.

"We need more funding for perpetrator services as well as peer services," she said.

"A lot of the time, perpetrators are the victims themselves and they're just not getting help … If we don't get it, we're going to become a very sick society."

The inquiry, which held hearings in Auckland yesterday, was prompted by a Green Party campaign to highlight the funding issues in the sector and is tasked with looking at the state of specialist services, including gaps in services.

An underfunded Hawera Rape Crisis had to close in 2012, and Auckland Help had to run a public campaign to prevent it having to close its 24-hour phone line.

Wellington Rape Crisis had to shut for one day a week in 2012 for financial reasons, but was able to reinstate hours after a charity campaign with Hell Pizza.

Nearly 1000 submissions were received and more than 100 people will be heard by the committee this month and next.

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