Relief for survivors of sexual violence

By Tema Hemi

The government is committing $320mil to tackle family and sexual violence, it's a move in the rights direction but much remains to be done to help Māori survivors of domestic abuse.  

Domestic violence survivor Marissa Mathews has a clear message to those in violent relationships.   

"Be brave, talk, ask for help because it's out there and don't stay stuck. There is life beyond violence."

She recently welcomed ActionStation's recent report, which highlighted a lack of funding toward Māori services in the sector.  

Laura O'Connell Rapira of ActionStation says, "The fact there's about seven million dollars for investigating kaupapa Māori responses...that's a really good start but it's only a start and we're going to have to see a lot more investment than that.

"There are so many people in our country that need help right now and there are so many people who trying to help those folk who simply don't have the resources to do that in a way that provides healing [from] trauma."

The government's just-announced $320mil package is aimed at:

  • Preventing family violence and sexual violence - $47.8 million over four years.
  • $84.3 million for safe, consistent and effective responses to family violence in every community.
  • $131.1 million has been allocated to expanding essential specialist sexual violence services.
  • $37.8 million to reforming the criminal justice system to better respond to victims of sexual violence. 
  • $20.0 million for strengthening system leadership and supporting new ways of working.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence), Jan Logie says, "I think the announcement we made yesterday represents a first step to working in partnership with Māori. The level of prevention, there's significant increase of funding for E Tū Whānau to be able to use tikanga and connect with hapū and iwi around prevention programs that work for Māori."

Thirteen women and ten men are killed each year in domestic and partner violence incidents on average in New Zealand.  

Wellington's Te Whare Rokiroki - Māori Women's Refuge assists over one hundred victims of violence and their families per year.

Their manager Ange Chaney says, "It's no secret that Māori are over-represented in stats around domestic violence so the role that kaupapa Māori services and Māori whare have to play in addressing those issues, I think, is large."

Despite the relief this announcement has brought to victims, Matthews is more concerned with making a fresh start, one day at a time.  

"When you think about going back to your marae and me being so far away from my whānau and my marae, [the announcement] didn't really cross my mind," she says. 

Funding will be distributed to the relevant services over the next four years.