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

What is the impact of gaps in funding on the sexual violence sector?

10.33We note that the issue of funding of the sexual violence sector is being considered by the Social Services Select Committee as part of an inquiry into the funding of specialist sexual violence social services. Although funding does not fall within our terms of reference, we consider that it is appropriate to comment briefly on the funding challenges experienced by those in the sector, given that this in turn impacts upon their ability to address the support and service needs of sexual violence victims.

10.34We understand that community service providers consider that inadequate funding negatively affects the ability to offer a model of wraparound care. For example, funding can help establish and maintain community service providers’ channels of communication and cooperation. Another example is that greater funding allows service providers to advertise their services so that victims do not have to identify and locate service providers able to meet their needs. To the extent that victims have experienced difficulties in seeking help (including money spent, psychological fatigue, and time lost) they are then less likely to be inclined or prepared to engage in the justice system.

10.35The lack of funding has impacts, in turn, on the wider victim experience. The first impact that lack of funding has on the wider victim experience is that failures in communication and consultation between service providers and funders inhibit effective distribution and use of the available funding. Funding of community service providers currently comes from a mixture of sources including Child, Youth and Family, ACC, the Ministry of Health (via the relevant District Health Board) and the Ministry of Social Development, with some top-ups by private donors. There is also funding provided by the Department of Corrections, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Justice to address harmful sexual behaviour. We understand that there is some consultation between the relevant government department and community service providers (principally those focused on crisis intervention) but that there are concerns as to the risk of wastage and doubling up given the limited communication between funding providers.683
10.36The second impact on the wider victim experience relates to the amount of funding available. Community service providers receive government funding to varying degrees. The combined estimated government funding for providers in 2012/13 totalled $29.07 million,684 of which $23 million funded support for victims and $6 million funded treatment for those exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours. As discussed in Chapter 2, the cost of reported sexual violence in 2012 totalled $1.8 billion, or $72,130 per reported incident,685 thus there is a discrepancy between the money currently invested in addressing the issue of sexual violence and the cost of sexual violence to New Zealand. While this can be said of many health and societal issues, in regard to sexual violence there are specific areas in which increased funding would make a significant impact, specifically in ensuring wraparound services for victims that support and encourage victims to engage and participate in the justice system or an alternative justice process.686

10.37The Law Commission has been told by community service providers that some staff contribute their own money and time to ensure victims are not left without support. The sector relies heavily on volunteers who donate their time free of charge to assist victims of sexual violence. The cost of these donated hours is not reflected in the current level of government funding to the sector. Furthermore there is no monitoring to ensure that this voluntary workforce is adequately trained to work with sexual violence victims and meet their support and service needs.

10.38There is a risk that funding deficits affect the comprehensiveness of the support that providers can offer. There are several examples of strong practice by community service providers in New Zealand, often based on models that have achieved significant progress overseas, yet funding shortfalls prevent those practices from being rolled out more comprehensively, in terms of being sustained and implemented throughout the country.

10.39Some community service providers (such as the HELP Programme in Auckland) provide support advocates to victims 24 hours a day so there is someone able to be with the victim when meeting with Police and during the medical examination. Yet, resources restrict the availability of support persons to a limited period, rather than this support continuing into and beyond the justice process (which can span several months and years). At the heart of wraparound care is the need for assistance to victims throughout the lifecycle of response and recovery. We consider that the issue of funding needs to be addressed by government to ensure wraparound care is provided for victims.

10.40Sustainable funding is clearly required in order to allow community and government service providers to offer front line services that wrap around the victim while at the same time planning for the future,687 and carrying out research projects or policy development.688 Without stable, long-term funding it is difficult to take on staff (especially those who are more highly skilled and trained), who seek certainty and security in their employment. In such circumstances there is heavy reliance on an unqualified voluntary sector.
683Meeting between TOAH-NNEST and the Law Commission (21 May 2015).
684Ministry of Social Development, above n 681, at [7]. From a total budget of $29.07 million, $16 million was contracted to non-governmental service providers and the remainder was allocated to victim access to the criminal justice system. In addition, $33.6 million of ACC funding was also allocated to sensitive claims. In 2015 the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence reported that:  
The portfolio analysis [of the Government’s current spend on family violence and sexual violence] raised some concerns… that:
  • spending decisions are made without a view of the overall system
  • the current “system” is therefore a default one, rather than a planned one
  • there appears to be some duplication in roles and services
  • spending is not always aligned with effectiveness in achieving outcomes or client need.
Cabinet Paper “Progress on the Work Programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence” (22 July 2015) SOC (15) 68 at [28]. 
685Ministry of Social Development, above n 673, at 85.
686Estimates vary on how much funding is missing from the sector. We understand from our discussions that while the funding boost of $10.4 million in the 2014 Budget to stabilise the sector provided relief to service providers in the short term, there are concerns as to what will happen when this funding is exhausted, such as whether funding will continue and at what rate. Dr Kim McGregor, Chief Victims’ Advisor and former Executive Director of Rape Prevention Education, has estimated that the sector needs an additional $10 million per year with a 10 year plan to increase that funding. This figure excludes funding for Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care, services for individuals exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours, and restorative justice programmes: Ministry of Social Development, above n 673, at 10.
687The short-term stabilisation funding of $10.4 million allocated for specialist sexual violence services in the 2014 budget ends 30 June 2016.
688Meetings between TOAH-NNEST and the Law Commission (May–June 2015).