Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Government to overhaul sexual assault services

Green MP Jan Logie, who called for the inquiry in to sexual assault services
Green MP Jan Logie, who called for the inquiry in to sexual assault services

The Government has committed to more funding for sexual assault services as part of an overhaul of the sector, which will allow rape crisis centres to remain open around the clock.

In a report presented to Parliament yesterday, the Government said it had broadly accepted all 32 of the recommendations made by the Social Services Committee following a two-year inquiry.

Government Response to the Report of the Social Services committee on its Inquiry into the funding of specialist sexual violence social services

The inquiry concluded in December that the funding and delivery models for specialist sexual violence services were were limited and disjointed, and that these shortcomings were having an impact on the rates and costs of sexual violence in New Zealand.

Inquiry into the funding of specialist sexual violence social services

The Government said it welcomed the "comprehensive" inquiry and committed to improved funding delivery and coverage. The exact level of new funding would not be known until the Budget in May.

Green MP Jan Logie, who called for the inquiry, said the Government's response was "a victory for those of us who have been fighting for so long".

Ms Logie, herself a victim of sexual assault, was particularly pleased about a commitment to increase remuneration in the sector, which would enable agencies to employ more staff.

Where necessary, emergency centres would be funded to remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

One of the factors which prompted the inquiry was the decision by Wellington Rape Crisis to close on Fridays because of a funding shortage.

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The sexual violence sector's coverage would also be improved, filling gaps in rural areas.

The inquiry heard from victims who had been forced to drive for hours to get treatment. Some regions, such as Thames-Coromandel, had no specialist services at all.

Some of the high-level changes recommended by the inquiry were already taking place under the Government's Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence.

In 2014, the Government allocated $10 million over two years for rape crisis centres and emergency counselling.

The inquiry heard from around 1000 submitters, including doctors, psychologists, lobby groups and victims, some of whom told harrowing accounts of their abuse.

Read more
Rape crisis centres to get $10m boost
Sexual-violence inquiry reveals gaps in services and funding shortfall

They expressed concern about long waits for services, uncertainty about continued funding, total absence of funding for some sectors, and the struggle to help Maori, rural, transgender or intersex clients.

- NZ Herald

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