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Minister must heed Women’s Refuge warning

Spokesperson for Women’s Affairs

Minister must heed Women’s Refuge warning

A warning that budget cuts could lead to the introduction of waiting lists for some of New Zealand’s most at-risk women is stark evidence that the Government is not interested in dealing with violence in our society, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Carol Beaumont says.

“Women’s Refuge says waiting lists could be the consequence of its budget being slashed. At the same time violence is increasing, with almost 32,000 family violence victims being contacted by refuges last year following police intervention. That’s more than double the number in 2007.

“It’s disgraceful that women and children who want and need to leave violent relationships may be forced to stay in them because this Government has shaved hundreds of thousands off safe house services,” Carol Beaumont said.

“As it is Women’s Refuge over-deliver on the funding they receive from Government. That funding only meets 60% of the cost of their residential services - the rest comes through donations and fundraising.

“When a woman finally does make a decision to leave these relationships, it is usually because there is a real risk of significant harm for them and their children. The ability to safely house them is of fundamental importance.

“Paula Bennett and her Associate, Tariana Turia, need to recognise they have made a mistake here. Cutting funding in this area is not on. Just this week we had a United Nations report (In Pursuit of Justice – Progress of the World’s Women 2011 – 2012) that showed New Zealand has the highest rates of physical and sexual violence in the OECD,” Carol Beaumont said.

“As a country we have to do something to change the culture of violence that pervades society. To do that we need to focus both on the prevention of it, and supporting the services provided to those wanting to escape it.

“The cuts and piecemeal approach of this Government is in stark contrast to the 12-year multi-million dollar framework for action to reduce violence announced by the Labour Government in Australia. The National Government has an obligation to actively support those working to stop violence and to support those in vulnerable, volatile situations. It has failed on both counts,” Carol Beaumont said.


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