Greens damn funding cuts for abuse aid agencies

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2012
Jan Logie
REBECCA THOMSON
Jan Logie

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A third of sexual abuse support services say they are slashing either staff numbers or their services because of continuing funding cuts.

The Greens conducted a telephone survey of the main support services throughout New Zealand and found that 36 per cent of 22 respondents were having to cut back.

Greens spokeswoman for women Jan Logie said one service had said it had to move to the manager's home because it could no longer afford an office, and another said it couldn't afford to advertise its services because of an increase in demand.

Hawera Rape Crisis had also closed this year.

"New Zealand has a significant problem with sexual abuse. One in three girls and one in eight boys are likely to experience sexual abuse, and reporting rates are increasing," Ms Logie said.

"The Government must commit adequate funding so these services can actually start filling the service gaps and guarantee everyone can get the right help."

The percentage of providers cutting their staff and services suggested funding to the sector was being "systemically eroded".

"We clearly cannot rely on individual communities or agencies to be able to fundraise their way out of this situation - and neither should we."

The Government was leaving it to volunteers to pick up the slack and was putting people at risk because of a lack of services and skills, Ms Logie said. "It's unacceptable that a third of our already overstretched services are having to lay off staff when there is no sign of demand abating, and it is in fact increasing."

A Government spokeswoman said funding for sexual violence services came from a range of agencies including the Social Development, Health and Justice ministries and ACC.

All 22 main providers had different funding mechanisms which would need to be looked at to determine whether their funding had been reduced, she said.

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