Sexual abuse helpline gets a lifeline

JESSICA TASMAN-JONES
Last updated 15:23 16/12/2011
Cakes
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ

HELPING HAND: Helpline supporters sold cakes in an effort to draw attention to the Auckland Sexual Abuse Helpline.

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Last-minute funding has given Auckland's only 24 hour sexual abuse helpline a six-month lifeline.

This afternoon the Ministry of Health confirmed it would provide funding for the first six months of 2012 for the Auckland Sexual Abuse Helpline (ASAH).

The helpline faced closure after losing a grant application for $400,000 to keep running past January.

The helpline needed to know about funding by midday today or face laying staff off.

The service for sexual violence victims takes 10,000 calls each year and operates 24 hours a day.

This morning helpline supporters met outside Nikki Kaye's Auckland Central electorate office in a last minute bid to draw attention to their cause.

They set up a cake stall fundraiser outside the National politician's office to demonstrate how desperate they were for the money.

In addition to the grant from the Ministry of Health the helpline gets $364,512 worth of funding from the Ministry of Social Development each year.

Government officials will meet with ASAH next week to develop a long term funding solution for the group.

Sexual violence is the only category of crime going up in New Zealand with police figures showing it rose 12 per cent last year.

National pledged to step up victim support during their election campaign.

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