Budget 2018: Funding for family and sexual violence response, central agent

Image: Pixabay

Budget 2018 was announced on 17 May 2018. The Budget included funding for a new national agent to lead and coordinate the family and sexual violence system and some increased funding for sexual violence services. Additional funding for family violence services was announced the week prior to the Budget.

Family and sexual violence central coordinating agent

Justice Minister Andrew Little and Associate Minister Aupito William Sio announced $2 million in operating funding for 2018/19 for a Family and Sexual Violence Central Agent. The funding is to cover the initial policy work to set up the agent, which will coordinate public sector and non-government organisation efforts to address family and sexual violence.

The cross-government Family and Sexual Violence Work Programme sent out a special email update about the Budget 2018 funding. Specific to the new coordinating agent or body, the update notes:

"The body will set a clear direction for the Government’s commitment to prevent and reduce family and sexual violence, with a collective strategy designed in partnership with the sector, Māori and other stakeholders. The body will identify gaps in the system, inform the allocation of family and sexual violence investment across agencies, facilitate solutions by Māori, for Māori, and lead the system transformation needed so that we can reduce family and sexual violence."

You can subscribe to future Family and Sexual Violence Work Programme updates by emailing familyandsexualviolence@justice.govt.nz.

Funding for sexual violence services

$7.5 million of operating funding has been allocated over four years for sexual abuse assessment and treatment services co-funded by ACC, NZ Police and the Ministry of Health. ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said "... Budget 2018 has increased funding to services that work to prevent sexual abuse, and support victims through treatment." 

Parliamentary Under-Secretary on Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues Jan Logie said:

"This Government is committed to ensuring people are supported and violence is prevented. Our plan includes properly resourcing sexual abuse assessment and treatment services, so I’m pleased that these crucial services are receiving the first significant funding increase from central government since 2008. It has been long overdue."

Media recently reported that some victims of sexual assault have been waiting more than a year for counselling services through ACC. Specialist sexual violence providers have previously reported significant increases in service demand above their funding levels. 

Other key announcements included:

Funding for Whānau Ora

The Budget did not include any new funding for Whānau Ora. Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has told Waatea News that funding for Whānau Ora will depend on the review of Whānau Ora currently underway. Minister Henare announced details of the review in April of this year. 

The North Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency Te Pou Matakana Chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait was disappointed with the lack of increased funding, saying Labour had promised an extra $20 million over four years for Whānau Ora. Listen to an interview with Ms Raukawa-Tait on Te Karere TVNZ. Māori Party President Che Wilson also said he was disappointed with the mainstreaming approach of the budget. Increased funding for Whānau Ora was one item on Hāpai Te Hauora's Māori Public Health Budget 2018 Wishlist.

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Māori Development funding in Budget 2018 was focused on papakāinga housing development, improving administration of whenua Māori, expanding training opportunities for rangatahi, and promoting Māori Wardens. However, concerns have been raised that funding for Māori is limited and has in fact decreased, with Te Puni Kōkiri losing $3 million of baseline funding over the next four years. (See also further responses in the media list below). In a joint Ministerial announcement with other Māori Ministers, Crown/Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis said "We cannot fix all the challenges Māori face in a single Budget – but we are starting to turn things around. We are building the foundations for a future full of Māori success."

Funding for social service non-government organisations (NGOs)

A number of advocates have highlighted that the Budget approach does not increase funding for many social service NGOs. Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA) national manager Brenda Pilott welcome the news, but raised concerns about inadequate for NGOs:

“We are encouraged by this year’s funding increase for family violence services and by the Minister of Finance’s promise of a strong focus on social wellbeing in Budget 2019. But we are very concerned that, in the meantime, some services are stretched to breaking point and won’t be able to last another year without financial relief.”

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers shared similar views, saying:

"From a social work perspective, we also welcome the increase in funding that has been directed toward Oranga Tamariki and for community-based Family Violence Services. However, we regret that the core community based social services sector has received no additional funding, despite its role in providing indispensable services to many vulnerable New Zealanders."

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) also highlighted the difficult financial situation of core community-based social services. NZCCSS Executive Officer Trevor McGlinchey said "Community social services are struggling to survive, we are likely to see further reductions and rationing of essential community services as organisations try to remain sustainable." See the NZCCSS Policy Watch: Budget 2018 Special newsletter for a brief analysis of the budget.

For more information:

See the Budget 2018 website. Also the NZ Herald summary article that includes key highlights, links to speeches and key press releases and the Māori Television summary article and story, Tahua 2018 which examines what the Budget includes for Māori. Other responses to the Budget are included in the media list below.

Selected media

Wellington sexual abuse counselling service at crisis point as client numbers swell, One News, 18.06.2018

Govt will have 'failed completely' if they don't reform benefits - Andrew Becroft, Newshub, 26.05.2018 (also see the full transcript)

Small projects test Maori targeting, Waatea News, 24.05.2018

Opinion: Sexual assault services run on the smell of an oily rag - we must do better, Opinion: Georgie Ferrari, Newshub, 24.05.2018

A plea to end sexual violence, Māori Television, 23.05.2018

Domestic violence callout every four minutes in NZ, Radio NZ, 23.05.2018

Budget ’18: a mixed bag for the young people of Aotearoa, Press Release: Ara Taiohi, Scoop, 21.05.2018

Budget 2018: Minister hits back over Māori criticisms, Radio NZ, 21.05.2018

‘Ecstatic’ over funding boost news, Otago Daily Times, 20.05.2018

Budget 2018: Moves to end child poverty welcomed, but advocates say beneficiaries let down, NZ Herald, 18.05.2018

'It's extremely disappointing, you know?' - Labour MPs under fire over lack of targeted spending for Maori, One News, 18.05.2018

A first step, but not a transformation for children, Press Release: Child Poverty Action Group, Scoop, 18.05.2018

Budget criticised for not doing enough for Māori, Radio NZ, 18.05.2018

Gordon Campbell on Budget 2018, Article: Gordon Campbell, Scoop, 18.05.2018

Manaakitanga but no special putea in Budget 2018, Waatea News, 18.05.2018

Budget 2018: Moves to end child poverty welcomed, but advocates say beneficiaries let down, NZ Herald, 18.05.2018

Budget 2018: Funding for vulnerable children receives mixed response, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: Special units in PM's Department to drive child poverty reduction policy, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: Lack of Whānau Ora funding a 'kick in the guts', says Māori Party, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait: Budget needs to address pressing issues, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: Sue Bradford, Tariana Turia and Ben Thomas share views on today's Budget, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: 'Kick in the guts' for Whānau Ora, Radio NZ, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: Govt sets up $37m Māori development fund, Radio NZ, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: Extra funding for youth justice system as age increases to 17, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

The Government’s Budget fails people on benefits, Press Release: Auckland Action Against Poverty, Scoop, 17.05.2018

Barnardos welcomes Budget 2018 and its positive impact, Press Release: Barnardos, Scoop, 17.05.2018

Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson 2018 Budget speech, Speech: Green Party, Scoop, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: Special units in PM's Department to drive child poverty reduction policy, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

Budget 2018: Oranga Tamariki gets nearly $270m in funding, 17-year-old offenders to be moved to youth court, NZ Herald, 17.05.2018

Focusing on community safety and targeting organised crime, Beehive Press Release, 17.05.2018

Better lives for children a focus of Budget 2018, Beehive Press Release, 17.05.2018

New focus on re-integration and community management to reduce re-offending, Beehive Press Release, 17.05.2018