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Victim Support listens to the Christchurch victims’ voices

This week Victim Support prepares to announce plans for the last distribution of donated funds to the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Victim Support Chief Executive Kevin Tso states: “I want to thank the victims for their bravery, their time and sharing their views. Their experiences are still raw, so we are mindful of how difficult it is to talk about money and the use of the donations.

“As we have stated before, every cent of the donated funds will go to victims of the attacks. It’s important that we see these payments not as compensation or entitlements but as gifts of unity and solidarity from more than 100,000 individuals across New Zealand and the globe as they were intended. These funds must be distributed as fairly and as transparently as possible to meet that intent.”

Over the past month, Kevin Tso met more than half of the 291 victims currently on the Police list in their homes, in hospital wards, and at nearby venues to hear their views. Phone calls were also held with victims based in such places as Pakistan, India and Australia, whilst others took up the invitation to email their views on the final distribution of funds.

“Victim Support realised, after numerous conversations in the community, that there was no single leadership group who could speak on behalf of all the victims. Initially our priority was to get donated funds to those as it was needed. Once the Police List was available, we could use this data and its categorization to make a range of lump sum payments. To date we’ve distributed over $7 million dollars to the victims.

“As we approached the last phase of payments, we knew that there would be vastly different views amongst victims about how these remaining funds should be prioritized. This became more evident as 14 different distribution approaches were suggested by the victims. These ranged from evenly distributing the funds across all victims, to only supporting the bereaved and injured.”

There were however key themes voiced by victims that will inform how the final payments are made. These included:

Ratio-based: While distribution preferences were varied and sometimes none were expressed, the most common preferences were for ratio-based distributions (increasing amounts distributed across escalating categories).
Prioritise the bereaved and severely injured: There is deep concern that those bereaved and the severely injured be adequately supported.
Take account of mental trauma: Those suffering mental trauma expressed their need to be included in the distribution.

Victim Support's Givealittle page raised more than $2million in the first two days and was closed on 30 May 2019 having reached a total of $10.7 million from more than 100,000 donors. With the overwhelming generosity of donors, sufficient funds remained available to victims after the emergency phase to provide victims on the Police List with a final payment.

More donations have also been received through other sources.

“We deeply value the time and feedback of the victims who chose to meet with us, and their feedback is informing our approach. We aim to do this with transparency and fairness.”

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