For the Wellbeing of New Zealanders: An urgent call for full funding for sexual violence prevention and support services

A report that highlights the impact of government underfunding of sexual violence prevention and support services on New Zealanders.

Today we launched our report that highlights the impact of government underfunding of sexual violence prevention and support services on New Zealanders. The Executive Summary is published below, and the report can be found in full here.

Sexual violence can be a difficult topic to think about — let alone talk about. But if we are going to prevent it from happening, and support survivors through healing and restoration, we have to be able to.

And the truth is some of us have been talking about solutions to sexual harm for decades. This report is the latest in a long history of reports, protests and campaigns calling for successive governments to do more to end our horrific rates of sexual abuse. We pay honour and tribute to those who have agitated for change before us, and alongside us, with the illustration by Hannah Salmon on the cover of this report.

We started this research from the premise that every person, from every community and background, should have access to sexual violence support and healing services when and where they need it. In a country with rates of sexual abuse as devastating as ours, we cannot accept anything less.

The research was conducted in four ways:

  • An analysis of recent government inquiries into the sexual violence sector;
  • A review of existing community research;
  • 11 in-depth interviews with a diverse range people who in the sexual violence sector;
  • An analysis of annual financial reports of 38 sexual violence support and intervention agencies.

Here is what we have learned along the way:

  • Successive governments have neglected sexual violence prevention and support services, and New Zealanders continue to suffer as a result;
  • Government underfunding of sexual violence prevention and support services is hurting all of our communities, especially Māori, LGBTIQ folk, and our migrant and refugee whānau;
  • Fully funding specialist sexual violence prevention and support agencies is crucial to supporting the mental health of young New Zealanders;
  • New Zealanders want the government to do more to end sexual and domestic violence and have demonstrated this desire over and over again;
  • Numerous government reports have acknowledged the damage of underfunding and called for urgent change;
  • Intimate partner violence and child abuse currently costs New Zealand between $1.4 billion and $7 billion over one year;
  • Limited and unstable government funding means services are stretched, stressed and overrun;
  • People who need help are being put on long waiting lists. Support agencies are left having to make hard choices about who to help first;
  • Prior to colonisation, sexual violence was rare within Māori communities. Now it is one of the leading causes of trauma among Māori women. Government underfunding of Kaupapa Māori services is creating further harm;
  • People from migrant and refugee backgrounds need support from people who understand their culture yet specialist cultural services struggle to get by;
  • Male survivors face challenges to accessing support, and need more support;
  • People from rainbow communities need specialist services. It saves lives;
  • Government underfunding is hindering healing and restoration;
  • The government needs to ensure best-practice education for sexuality, healthy relationships and consent in all schools.

Based on these findings, we urge the New Zealand government to significantly increase funding in Budget 2019 for sexual violence prevention, intervention and survivor support services.

We also recommend the government:

  1. Empower primary, secondary, and ECE schools to become consent champions
    The government must support and fund all secondary, primary and ECE schools to become 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.
  2. Make Kaupapa Māori specialist services available across Aotearoa
    There should be enough government funding available for nationwide coverage of Kaupapa Māori specialist sexual violence support services.
  3. Ensure everyone has access to culturally appropriate and accessible services
    There should be enough government funding available for nationwide coverage of other culturally-appropriate, accessible 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.
  4. Make sure everyone who has caused sexual harm or is worried they could, can get the help they need
    Government should ensure 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.

These recommendations are grounded in the experiences and wisdom of people leading prevention and support work across the country.

Sexual violence is a widespread public health and social justice problem — but it is a problem that, together, we can prevent and end. 100 percent of incidents are preventable. Every survivor should have access to great support. Each one of us is part of the solution.

Read the full report here.

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