A 24/7 nation-wide helpline for sexual harm opened today.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said Safe to Talk He pai ki te kōrero willgive people the chance to seek free, anonymous and confidential support from one central place.
"Anyone, anywhere who is affected by sexual harm can use Safe to talk He pai ki te kōrero. It's for survivors, concerned whānau and people who have harmed others or who may be thinking about harming others.
"So far more than 665 people have made contact with the helpline since it went live nationally in April this year," Sepuloni said.
Staff have been equipped to deal with sexual trauma and are being led by Dr Siale Foliaki.
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The Government-funded service will be run by Homecare Medical, which has been contracted by the Ministry of Social Development to develop, build and run the helpline.
Sepuloni said the ministry recognised people affected by sexual harm could struggle to reach out for support.
"Anyone contacting the helpline can say as little or as much as they like – and they can remain anonymous if they want to.
"Feedback from the first few weeks of national operation shows that the ability to remain anonymous or provide only a first name is helping people to feel comfortable with accessing the service.
"The online chat function is proving a popular communication method, followed by calls, text messaging and then emails," Sepuloni said.
Safe to talk is available free and 24/7 by calling 0800 044 334, texting 4334, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Resources and web chat: www.safetotalk.nz