Backing for boost to rape crisis funds

NZ Newswire Updated August 14, 2012, 5:39 pm

The government is being urged to step up with more funding for sexual violence services after the Wellington Rape Crisis centre cut its opening hours, citing a lack of funds to cope with increasing demand.

The centre announced this week that it will no longer open its doors on Fridays and says it needs $55,000 by April next year to again provide a five-day service.

Despite demand for its services doubling between 2011 and 2012 and an increase in costs such as rent, funding has either decreased or remained the same, centre spokeswoman Natalie Gousmett said.

The centre has a $310,000 annual budget, including up to $90,000 from the government, although this funding is not guaranteed and the centre must reapply every two years.

The rest of the funding comes from Wellington City Council, the Lotteries Commission, smaller trusts and donations - and the organisation has put out a call for supporters to hold fundraisers, such as cake stalls and fun runs, to help.

Labour's women's affairs spokeswoman Sue Moroney says the government must ensure secure, long-term funding for the organisation.

"This situation reinforces just how far we have to go as a society before the government can trumpet initiatives aimed at reducing violence. These are essential services for vulnerable women and their families," she said.

Green Party women's affairs spokeswoman Jan Logie says the government has ignored its 2009 Taskforce for Action Report on Sexual Violence, which recommended immediate and long-term funding for specialist sexual violence prevention services and programmes, like Rape Crisis.

"Sexual abuse services aren't just needed in good economic times. The government seems to think they're optional, maybe because the stigma means a mass protest is unlikely."

Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott is appalled that the centre has to downscale its services.

"It should not have to go cap-in-hand to the community or rely on cake stalls to raise [funding]," she said.

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