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Government must get real about Women's Refuge

8 May 2006

Government must get real about Women's Refuge

While state-funded campaigns are urging more women to turn to Women's Refuge for help, the Government is not increasing the money available to meet the needs it has helped to identify, the Green Party says.

"Over the past 12 months, a Government campaign to increase awareness about family violence has seen an extra 3.000 women turn to Women's Refuge for protection," Green Party Social Development spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"Yet state funding has stayed at $4.5 million for the last 10 years, even though almost 24,000 women now use the Women's Refuge network.

"The fact that more funds are not being made available, even after the Government campaign has encouraged more women to leave their situations of risk, is appalling," Ms Bradford says.

"It is said a society can be judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable members. What the Women's Refuge network needs and deserves is stable, full funding by Government for providing an essential public service.

"Three years ago, the Government could find $5.6 million to keep Team New Zealand together for the next America's Cup challenge. That is more than the government gives to Women's Refuge each year. .

"Women's Refuge estimate they need $26 million a year to do their job properly. It is a very efficient organisation. With three months remaining on this year's contract, it has over-delivered on community support by 435 percent and on residential services by 195 percent. Ms Bradford says.

"A stable $20 million plus annual budget provided by Government for Women's Refuge now would mean less downstream expense later for the health system in general, and for mental health services in particular."


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