Chapter 10
Is there a need for reform to help sexual violence victims engage with the​
justice system?

What are the gaps in meeting the support and service needs of victims of sexual violence​
in New Zealand?

10.29Despite a large number of community service providers and government service providers working in the field of sexual violence, we consider that gaps exist in meeting the support and service needs of victims, which negatively impact on victim engagement with the justice system.

10.30For several years, the Ministry of Social Development has been active in reviewing the sexual violence sector and identifying issues in service provision. In a 2013 Review Report to Hon Paula Bennett, then Minister for Social Development, the sexual violence sector was described as “[u]nplanned, under-resourced, lacking in strategic over-view or universal access and messaging”.681 That 2013 Report was produced near the beginning of a cross-agency review of the sector. The review made findings, secured interim funding for the sector, and identified priorities, marking the beginning of improved agency collaboration.

10.31The findings of the Ministry are broader than the matters covered in this Report (see Appendix F for an overview of services in New Zealand), but we endorse the Ministry’s finding that the provision of sexual violence support services in New Zealand is disjointed, underfunded (and accordingly unsustainable),  and lacking oversight and coordination to ensure care is wrapped around the victim and that the victim is assisted to engage with the justice system.

10.32With reference to the themes that we identified in looking at overseas models, our knowledge of the work being conducted by the Ministry of Social Development, our discussions with individuals and organisations working in the service sector and in light of our focus on how the victim experience impacts upon engagement with the justice system or an alternative justice process, we understand the relevant gaps to be the following:682

(a) Depending on the location, there is a lack of consistently available and comprehensive wraparound support to meet the unique needs of each victim. Factors include:

(i) limited funding and service delivery options across the country, especially in the provinces;

(ii) limited number of ethnicity-specific specialist services and those working with male survivors;

(iii) increasing demand for services across the sector;

(iv) providers contracting to multiple government agencies each with different requirements;

(v) potential inefficiencies from the operation of multiple independent services; and

(vi) a lack of national governance, coordination, and overarching strategy.

(b) There is a lack of adequate training, education or agreed quality standards, accreditation and monitoring to ensure that those interacting with sexual violence victims respond appropriately.

(c) There is inadequate research into sexual violence and dissemination of research findings.

(d) There is no method for collecting statistics and data arising from sexual violence and effectively applying that information in order to address sexual violence and assist victims.

681Ministry of Social Development Specialist Sexual Violence Sector Review Report to Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development (2013) at 10.
682At [46].