Budget boost for rape crisis centres

Rape crisis centres will get a boost in funding in next month's Budget, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced.

The Government plans to invest $10.4 million into sexual violence services over the next two years.

Mrs Bennett said the sector required extra resourcing, especially for the availability of 24-hour crisis and emergency counselling centres.

Wellington Rape Crisis was temporarily forced to cut its hours from five days a week to four days a week last year, and many centres say they have no funding security.

They have warned the Government about long waiting lists and the absence of services in rural or provincial areas.

Government agencies are predicting a 10 per cent annual increase in sexual abuse compensation claims in the next six years - a trend which is believed to reflect increased reporting, not increased abuse.

The funding boost included support for male victims, who make up around a fifth of sexual abuse cases. The new money would also cover medical and forensic services, and community-based treatment services.

The Green Party's women's issues spokeswoman Jan Logie said the funding increase was a "huge win" which would give the sector some much-needed stability.

"Support services have been struggling for too long, having to worry about whether they will be able to afford to open their doors, so this long overdue funding is very welcome.

"While many services will still be operating on a shoe string to meet the need in the community, at least they will finally have the stability to focus on their work, not where the next dollar will come from."

A parliamentary inquiry is currently reviewing specialist sexual violence services following widespread concerns about availability and funding.

- Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald

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