Reduction of funding for sexual violence crisis counselling
19 November 2012
Reduction of funding for sexual violence crisis counselling a step backwards
The imminent reduction of funding to the sexual violence crisis counselling service in Auckland is a huge step backwards for victims and families, says Dr Cathy Stephenson of DSAC (Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care). “The forensic medical service relies on the specialist skills provided by crisis counsellors to support patients affected by sexual assault and to assist them through medical and police procedures,” she said. “We work in a partnership model and the counsellors are an integral part of our work. They ensure the victims of acute sexual trauma receive specialised care and support at a crucial time. The care they provide can make all the difference to the long-term recovery and prognosis of the patients we see”.
Dr Stephenson said that the Auckland HELP service was started 30 years ago when doctors working with sexual assault victims in the city’s police stations recognised the need for a specialised service, involving both medical and crisis support. The HELP model is seen by other regions around the country as the gold standard. At present, the provision of crisis counselling is variable across the country, with some smaller centres having no service at all. Doctors and Police specialising in sexual assault work have been looking at strategies to provide an equitable, nationwide crisis counselling service, to ensure all victims of sexual violence can expect and receive the same level of care.