Sexual Violence Initiative Welcomed
19th May 2019 PRESS RELEASE for TOAH-NNEST (Te Ohaaki a Hine-National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together)
New Zealand’s specialist sexual violence service sector is heartened to hear today that the government has demonstrated its commitment to the Well-Being of its citizens by announcing a significant injection of money into the work the sector undertakes to relieve the harm caused by sexual violence. The sector’s work has been severely under resourced for decades leading to victims and those who harm facing long waiting times for services.
Solutions to the devastation caused by sexual violence are complex and challenging. They require the government and the specialist sector to work strongly in partnership to develop both strategies and actions. The wider community also needs to increase its understanding of the important role they have to play in the solutions. Sexual violence affects all ages, genders, ethnicities and socio economic groups and it will take a radical effort to rid our country of it.
TOAH-NNEST Ngā Kaitiaki Mauri spokesperson and specialist clinician, Russell Smith says “for many years sexual violence services supporting Māori have continued to struggle to appropriately address and meet the needs of Māori. Meanwhile specialist Kaupapa Māori sexual violence services have been underfunded, under resourced, neglected and invalidated by successive governments. Today’s announcement goes some way towards acknowledging the expertise that Māori specialists have to offer in the intervention and prevention of sexual violence. This budget will go toward strengthening current specialist Kaupapa Māori sexual violence services, including the augmentation and growth for Māori to meet the needs of Māori. We acknowledge the challenge for Government in balancing and rectifying the needs of Māori, therefore we see this as a courageous step in the right direction and remain hopeful that the Government will continue in this vein to meet their vision and goal of wellbeing for Māori and for all of Aotearoa”.
The announcement today represents the single largest funding commitment to Sexual Violence by any NZ government and is long overdue. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern spoke today about the major improvement in NZ’s wellbeing that could be gained if the harm caused by sexual and family violence to around one million citizens was addressed. Whilst the announcement today will not see an end to sexual violence it represents a significant building block in that direction.
TOAH-NNEST Tauiwi Chairperson and long-time children’s advocate, Maggy Tai Rākena is particularly pleased to see that funding for crisis services for children and youth who have experienced sexual violence will also receive a desperately needed boost. “Children in Aotearoa are experiencing very long waits for specialist services following sexual violence and worse still, some regions have no services that specialise in working with this age group at all. This can add undue stress for both the children and their whanau following trauma experiences” says Ms Tai Rākena.
The sector was delighted when late in 2018 Parliamentary Under Secretary, Jan Logie established a Joint Venture of ten government ministries who have joined up to tackle Sexual and Family Violence. This is a unique initiative and bodes well for a collaborative approach that shares expertise and resources. The sector looks forward to developing a strong and on-going partnership with Government as the shared goals of safety and well-being are pursued.
Radical thinking and action is required….the sector is committed to that and looks forward to a government that will join the effort to turn the tide on the ‘wicked problem’ that is sexual violence.