Paula Bennett takes ministerial responsibility for sexual violence

Ministerial responsibility for the sexual violence sector has been taken on by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. This is the first time it has been held by one minister; responsibility has previously been split between government ministers including Justice, Health, Police, ACC and Social Development.

The move has been welcomed by the sexual violence sector. Wellington Rape Crisis Manager Natalie Gousmett said, “It is fantastic that Minister Bennett has stepped up to take responsibility for our sector. We have not had a Minister accountable for the sexual violence sector and this is something we have specifically asked for in order to ensure we have a well-resourced and sustainable sector.” Further actions Wellington Rape Crisis would like to see include a dedicated government agency to oversee and support the sexual violence sector and allocation of funding for these vital services in the May 2013 budget.

The move comes comes as the Green Party rolls out it Everyone needs the right help campaign, highlighting the under-resourcing of specialist survivor services for people who have been raped, sexually assaulted and/or sexually abused. Green party spokeperson for women Jan Logie said:

“Reporting is increasing and we need the services to be there so everyone can get the right help. Currently there is no service in Tauranga or Hawkes Bay while men in Otago can only access four hours of funded counselling a week. People with disabilities, the group most vulnerable to sexual abuse, have no specialist services. Strong leadership and sustainable funding are desperately needed."

'Paula Bennett takes sexual violence sector role', Stuff, 22/2/13

'Minister to oversee sexual violence organisations', Radio NZ, 23/2/13

Wellington Rape Crisis commends Minister Paula Bennett’s decision to take a lead in the Sexual Violence Secto', Media release: Wellinton Rape Crisis, 22/2/13

'Greens call for meaningful leadership on sexual violence', Press release: Green party, 22/2/13

'Sexual violence sector deserves leadership', Press release: Paula Bennett, 22/2/13

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