Press Release – Help Foundation
Phone and call-out services for Auckland victims of sexual assault and rape will be drastically reduced because of a government decision to squeeze funding. The Help Foundation that provides the services will be forced to lay off specialist staff and cut services before Christmas, said spokesperson Aimee Stockenstroom.
“For victims of sexual assault and rape, the potential to suffer devastating mental health consequences is high and early intervention must be seen as a survivor’s right. HELP provides this essential support. One in five women in their lifetime are sexually assaulted or raped. HELP takes 12,000 calls a year from victims of sexual assault and rape; 250 calls a week. It is not ethical, and shocking for us to think in the middle of the night when the terror can be the most overwhelming, there will no longer be someone there at the end of the phone.
Over the past few years we have welcomed this government’s renewed focus on the needs of the victims of crime. In light of this, it is difficult to understand why the victims of rape are to be denied this service. We are now facing imminent and drastic reduction in services to the women, children and men of Auckland who experience sexual assault/abuse
“The Government made a commitment to work closely with HELP to establish a sustainable telephone service for the future” in December 2011. Now we face underfunding by $200,000 a year which, while extremely modest compared to other government spending, is vital for being able to maintain these essential services. We have no choice but to lay-off specialist staff and cut back the crisis support service hours.”
News of the underfunding came as the HELP Foundation had a weekend event marking 30 years of providing services to the public. “The organisation was set up because police, doctors and others dealing with rape and sexual assault argued there was a need for a specialised service for victims.