23 May 2018
Survivors, students and helping professionals urge Government to walk the talk in ending sexual violence
More than 100 survivors, students, and helping professionals have signed an open letter to the Government calling for greater investment in preventing, reducing, treating and ending sexual violence.
letter asks for:
• All secondary, primary and ECE schools are champions of healthy relationships and consent. This includes training and support for all teachers and administrative staff and the implementation of universal, best-practice, culture and age appropriate primary prevention sexuality education, including education on healthy relationships and consent;
• There is enough government funding available for nationwide coverage of Kaupapa Māori and other culturally-appropriate and properly resourced specialist sexual violence support services to provide 24/7 early intervention following recent sexual assault and ongoing interventions when and where needed;
• We have locally accessible, free, best-practice and culturally appropriate services for self-referral by people who are at risk of causing harm as well as those who have already caused harm and want to change their behaviour.
The open letter marks the launch of a national campaign. “We look forward to seeing these changes implemented in next year’s budget,” says ActionStation Director Laura O'Connell Rapira.
In this year’s Budget there was welcome news of funding for a new central agency and an extra $7.5 million for ACC spending. However HELP Wellington Chief Executive Conor Twyford says this doesn’t meet the current operational expenses of frontline service groups, let alone meeting increasing demand.
“There are an increasing number of people coming into the system so there is a need to budget to meet the increased demand, on top of necessary funding for operational costs.”
“These are unmet costs that still need funding and have never really been funded. I'd love to see the new agency addressing that issue.”
The 109 signatories include representatives from HELP Wellington, Rape Crisis, the National Council of Women New Zealand, ActionStation, University of Auckland Campus Feminist Collective and the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges.
“Every person in Aotearoa New Zealand should feel safe, welcome and included in our communities,” says O'Connell Rapira. “However around one in three girls will be subjected to an unwanted sexual experience by the age of 16, one in five women will experience sexual assault as an adult and one in seven men will be sexually abused in their lifetime.”
In 2014 British Medical Journal the Lancet published a report indicating sexual assault rates of 56 countries. New Zealand had the third highest rate, more than double the world average.
Before the campaign launch O'Connell Rapira will be presenting a submission from ActionStation members asking Wellington City Council to make ending sexual violence a number one priority in their 10 year plan.
“Wellington could be New Zealand’s first city free of sexual violence. It’s an aspirational goal but it’s possible, and our members urge the Council to work towards this vision over the next ten years.”