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Funding increase excludes many front-line services

Family violence funding increase excludes many front-line services says national family violence network

Last week’s announcement by the Prime Minister of a $76m increase in funding for family violence services was unlikely to ease the financial burden on many specialist front-line services, a leading national family violence network said today.

While specialist family violence services around the country initially expressed delight with the boost in funding, Ms Merran Lawler, Kaiarahi of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services today said:

“As with all such announcements, the devil is in the detail and that detail now provides a disappointing sting in the tail for our member agencies who are specialist family violence service providers. A significant number of those providers are likely to see little increase in the contribution government makes to their funding, particularly in maintaining services which support children, young people and women who are victims of violence”.

It has emerged that while some increase in existing funding for “direct family violence services” can be expected, it applies only to MSD funded services. Oranga Tamariki services are excluded, even though until 12 months ago those programmes were funded by MSD.

“With the establishment of Oranga Tamariki in April 2017, decisions were made by MSD and OT to move some family violence services and programmes across to Oranga Tamariki. Those decisions were made internally by the Ministries without rhyme or reason and certainly no national consistency. The result is that some family violence service providers can, for example, now expect to see an increase in funding to support victims of violence because that funding is tagged as MSD while the same service delivered by a different provider will miss out completely because they are OT funded. Other agencies will receive an increase in funding based upon gender because their MSD funded services target one gender and their OT funded service covers another gender.

“The real losers however will be children and young people. It appears all children’s and youth family violence services were transferred to Oranga Tamariki and will therefore miss out on any share of the funding increase.

“Almost all of our member agencies have not received a single cent increase in funding for at least a decade and, for the most part during that decade were funded by MSD. Even now they have a single “integrated” contract with MSD and OT for family violence services but it appears to be integrated only in terms of what is required of them rather than what is provided by MSD/OT to them to perform their work.

Ms Lawler said that there are also concerns about whether even MSD funded front-line family violence services will attract the increase.

“Information from MSD indicates that the increase specifically excludes “family violence prevention programmes”. What is not clear is how the Ministry intends to interpret that –many of our member agencies operate group based support programmes for victims and perpetrators of family violence but those groups are often (but not always) recorded in provider contracts as “prevention programmes” even though they are front-line services directed at helping people to escape violent situations, address violent behaviours or deal with the emotional aftermaths of violence.

“We have the ludicrous situation where an MSD funded men’s stopping violence programme supporting self-referred men to develop better behaviours may not receive any increase in funding because it is about “violence prevention” and at the same time a counselling service for children witnessing violence also dipping out because it’s not now funded by MSD.

“Family violence front-line services have gone without any funding increase for a decade. Many of our member agencies have not been able to give their staff a pay rise of even a dollar a week in that time. Some have had to close their doors because the cost of delivering services was impossible when funding was decreasing in real terms year on year. Other agencies have had to reduce or cut specific programmes and services.

“Sadly, the announcement last week of a significant increase in family violence funding to “stabilise current services” is unlikely to provide any stability at all for many family violence specialist agencies. Until such time as government ministries and departments stop providing “contributory funding” to family violence services (which contribution varies between 30-70%) and starts funding the actual cost of delivering family violence support services, we will continue to have the situation where those providers have to decide between directing staff time to providing counselling to a victim or running a sausage sizzle to raise rent money to keep their doors open another month.

ends

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