Government underfunding leaves organisations supporting victims of sexual violence to fundraise millions to stay afloat, a new report has found.

On Tuesday, Action Station released its report, For the Wellbeing of New Zealanders, which found there was a multi-million difference between the needs of support agencies and the amount of Government funding they received.

Of the 38 agencies examined, the Government paid a total of $24.7 million, yet the total expenditure of agencies was $31.7m – leaving a gap of $7m.

Report co-author Laura O’Connell Rapira​ said at least $10m in this year’s Budget was needed.

Published in Stuff

The report said “systemic underfunding” made it “impossible for those who work in these agencies to develop appropriate community-based responses in line with best practice” and this especially negatively impacted Māori, refugee and LGBTQI+ communities.

The lack of funding also meant there were long waits for counselling. Some sexually-abused children faced a five-month waiting period, with staff spending valuable hours looking for funding instead of focusing on outreach.

Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP’s Conor Twyford said she needs to fundraise a quarter-of-a-million dollars a year to keep her agency running, with the current wait for counselling about 10 weeks.

Twyford said it “makes her heart ache” to watch survivors have to endure a wait for services.

“It just grinds them down, they are so determined to deal with their issues … and it’s retraumatising to be told they have to wait.”

She has seen a small yearly increase in Government money, but making ends meet remained a struggle.

“We can’t actually go on like this.”

Treasury has previously estimated sexual violence was the most expensive crime in the country, largely based on its impact on survivors.

Official reports have come to a variety of conclusions on what sexual violence costs New Zealand, ranging from $1.8 billion to $7b.

The report also advocated for programmes to be designed through “a uniquely Māori clinical lens” that accounted for the connection between sexual violence and the violence of colonisation.

Co-director of Korowai Tumanako, a Kaupapa Māori service, Russell Smith said, “Māori are twice as likely to be affected by sexual violence as non-Māori, so it makes sense to provide Kaupapa Māori services for them.”

Smith defines a Kaupapa Māori service as one with total Māori governance and management as well as an understanding of Māori clinical practice.

Sandra Dickson, a sexual violence researcher, said there also needs to be more specialised services for the rainbow community.

The report also highlighted the negative experiences members of the LGBT community have with mainstream violence support services, many relating to “homophobia, biphobia and transphobia”.

By Julie Iles
Published in Stuff
30 April 2019