Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Sexual violence services receive funding boost of $46 million

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said in the past the sector has been fragmented and has struggled to meet demand. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said in the past the sector has been fragmented and has struggled to meet demand. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A new advice line for victims of sexual violence will be set-up after $46 million was pledged to help overhaul the sexual assault services sector.

Budget 2016 will invest just under $40 million of new operating over four years to better support victims and prevent sexual violence, Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced today.

A further $6.4 million will be invested after being reprioritised from other spending areas.

Mrs Tolley said in the past the sector has been fragmented and has struggled to meet demand.

"We are now investing properly in the right places to ensure there is a long-term plan in place which focuses on prevention, appropriate crisis support for victims, and on-going help to enable victims to try to recover."

The funding will support:

New frontline crisis response for victims, including a new 24/7 national advice and support helpline. A professional will also accompany a victim to police interviews and medical examinations where appropriate.

Harmful sexual behaviour services to attempt a reduction in offending, with a particular focus on adults who pose a risk to children.

Services for male survivors of sexual abuse.

Today's announcement comes after the Government earlier broadly accepted all 32 of the recommendations made by the Social Services Committee following a two-year inquiry.

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

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

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.

Green MP Jan Logie, who called for the inquiry, said today's announcement would give a much needed boost to the sector.

"However, reports from frontline services show additional funding will be needed just to keep up with the huge increase in demand.

"People who have been the victims of sexual violence need to know that they can get the help they need to move on with their lives."

- NZ Herald

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