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Anti-Violence Workers Fear Government Funding Cuts

Media Statement
Tuesday May 8 2012

Anti-Violence Workers Fear Government Funding Cuts

Frontline family violence agencies are fearful for the safety of domestic violence victims amid growing concerns of impending funding cuts to coordinated interagency collaborations.

The National Network of Stopping Violence, Te Kupenga, is urging Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to view first-hand the outstanding work of the Wairarapa Family Violence Network. The organisation is one of New Zealand’s leading collaborative responses to domestic violence in a community that was repeatedly exposed to its tragic consequences a decade ago.

In a letter to Minister Bennett, Te Kupenga National Manager Advocacy and Strategic Relationships, Brian Gardner, says member agencies are up in arms that the Government may discontinue the funding at the end of next month (June).

“We are deeply concerned that this may be the case and at the negative repercussions this decision will have on victims, young and old,” Mr Gardner says.

“Funding of coordinated community responses has been some of the most effective government spending in this area and has directly contributed to reducing domestic violence by protecting vulnerable children and adults as well as holding those who use violence to account.

“In short, this funding has led to a much improved response – reducing violence and saving lives.”

Mr Gardner says the interagency initiative was originally driven by a number of appalling domestic violence murders. These included Hinewaioriki-Matiaha, or ‘Lilly Bing’ (23 months); Thomas Schumann (two years); Saliel Aplin (12 years) and Olympia Jetson (11 years); and Coral Ellen Burroughs (six years) – all murdered in the Wairarapa between July 2000 and September 2003.

Ministerial reviews of their cases raised significant concerns that statutory and community organisations were working in isolation leading to poor practice, fragmentation of information and service delivery, and increased risk for child and adult victims.

As a result, the Government granted funding for coordinated and collaborative responses to family violence. The support enables agencies including members of Te Kupenga, Women’s Refuge, Child Youth and Family and the New Zealand Police to develop more effective multi-agency responses and provide better outcomes for victims and perpetrators.

Mr Gardner says the funding was under threat last year (2011) but Minister Bennett “wisely” chose to ensure that money would be available for the programme to continue.

"We are advocating for confirmed, ongoing funding on a multi-year basis; this will provide certainty to the communities, agencies and individuals who benefit from and are responsible for delivering on this hugely important work.

“The best way to evaluate the effectiveness of the model is to hear from those people at the ‘frontline’. We invite Minister Bennett to visit the Wairarapa Family Violence Network to see the great results they have achieved through an interagency response to domestic violence.”

Te Kupenga is a network of 42 independent community-based groups – from Whangarei to Invercargill – working to end violence and abuse in families. For more information, go to the websitewww.nnsvs.org.nz.

ENDS

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