Safer Centre struggling for funds

Another Taranaki agency targeting sexual and domestic violence has hit the financial wall.

The Taranaki Safer Family Centre in New Plymouth is the latest one struggling to meet basic service needs as essential money sources dry up.

Centre manager Tina Gulliver said the squeeze wouldn't shut the doors but all their proactive work was out the window.

"We can't increase staff hours and we can't put on another staff member, which is what we need to do," she said.

"We are asking people to wait but it's not the sort of thing we want to do."

Earlier this month, Hawera's HRC Family Counselling Services began an appeal to raise money to keep its doors open amid funding cuts which led to five of its eight employees being axed. Its 24/7 crisis line, social support and crisis work had already been scrapped and the organisation couldn't rule out further cuts next year.

That has put pressure on groups like the Safer Family Centre who are now being asked to do far more with far less.

"Our workload had already increased regardless of these closures," Mrs Gulliver said.

"I don't know what we are going to do and I'm concerned for the people out there."

She said with three of her five part-time counsellors already in Hawera on a weekly basis something would have to give. "We are just going to become the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

"We work with the perpetrators of sexual violence as well, so if we can't get in there and fix what needs fixing it's going to become a worse problem."

She said as they also worked with children, the knock-on effect would be seen for years to come.

Green Party MP Jan Logie puts the blame for the cash shortfall squarely at the feet of the Government. The Greens conducted an informal survey of 22 organisations around the country and found a third were in the same boat.

Ms Logie said Social Development Minister Paula Bennett confirmed the $20 million Community Response Fund (CRF) had been cut altogether because it was only meant to be temporary.

"There is a funding crisis among the sexual violence support sector," she said.

"Ms Bennett could not guarantee the additional funding that the sexual violence support sector needs to continue to help the victims of sexual crime.

"Once again, the most vulnerable people have been left out in the cold. The Government promised to ensure that sexual violence services would be provided where they are needed. It needs to live up to that promise."

Ms Bennett said the safer centre trust had never received a CRF grant and the ministry was only one of several agencies that fund them.

"MSD funding for the trust is committed until 2014," she said.

"The Community Response Fund was time limited funding for social service organisations struggling during the global financial crisis, organisations had to actively apply for one-off CRF grants on this basis."

Taranaki Daily News