28 May 2013

Sexual abuse support services hoping for more funding

7:43 pm on 28 May 2013

Sexual abuse support services say they're hoping a government review of their sector will result in extra funding.

Rape Prevention Education executive director Kim McGregor says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has appointed a senior ministry official to investigate if there is a more sustainable way to pay for services.

Dr McGregor says funding for the sector has barely increased since the 1980s. She says she's cautiously optimistic that the review will lead to a funding boost, but says the minister has not yet promised any extra money.

Auckland's Sexual Abuse Help Foundation clinical manager Kathryn McPhillips says the sector urgently needs more funding as the number of referrals increase.

The foundation offers specialist counselling for children as young as three who've been abused, but Ms Phillips says that service is really stretched.

She says the typical wait at the moment is a couple of months, and that's undesirable because symptoms either escalate or the child is so distressed that their psychological coping strategy is to shut down.

Ms McPhillips says support services across the country are not keeping pace with the number of referrals.

Rape Crisis co-ordinator Georgia Knowles says adult sexual abuse victims are also waiting months to see a counsellor in some areas.

Ms Knowles says many services rely on short, fixed-term contracts and the sector needs guaranteed, ongoing funding.