Plea to raise baseline funding of refuge

One of the refuges which helps women fleeing violent relationships in North Otago is calling for an increase in its baseline funding to prevent it possibly having to cut one of its services.

Mid-South Island Women's Refuge and Family Safety Services manager Dawn Rangi-Smith said her Timaru-based centre had not had a boost to its baseline funding for about six years; it gets roughly $144,000 annually.

The centre's coverage area stretched from Palmerston to to Rakaia in the north and Twizel and Kurow to the west.

Mrs Rangi-Smith said during 2015-16, her outreach case worker, who monitored towns including Oamaru and Ashburton, responded to 102 cases, but the service was funded to cover only 25 people.

She said the case worker reported an increase in family violence in Oamaru as the 2016-17 financial year drew to a close.

The baseline funding covered core services of residential care, responding to police reports and crisis calls, community care and outreach care.

She said her service would look at reducing its education programme if baseline funding was not increased, but people trapped in violent homes would still be helped.

The ministry issued a strong public statement about how abhorrent family violence was and it would be good to see that talk backed by action, Mrs Rangi-Smith said.

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) regional manager Moira Underdown said her service expected to be able to tell the National Collective of Independent Women's Refuges (NCIWR) about their funding for 2017-18 within ``the next few weeks''.

The Mid-South Island Women's Refuge and Family Safety Services is an affiliated women's refuge.

MSD directly funded Mid-South Island Women's Refuge and Family Safety Service.

Mid-South Island Women's Refuge and Family Safety Service's funding for baseline services was increased from $66,411 in 2010-11, to $146,409 in 2011-12, to $146,424 in 2012-13 and the same amount for 2013-14.

``Women living in the North Otago area can be assured that if they or their children are threatened by violence in the home, they have access to a safe refuge if they need it. Distance is no barrier to support. Our advice, as always, is if a woman feels threatened and needs a safe house she should call the 0800 NCIWR crisis line or the police.

``We have checked back five years, and the ministry's community investment southern arm has not declined any application to provide refuge services in North Otago.

``There are refuges in Dunedin and also Timaru, just over an hour north of Oamaru.''

The Timaru refuge covers Waitaki, Waimate, Timaru, Ashburton, Mackenzie and Selwyn districts.


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