It’s happening again.
It’s that time of year when the agency you like to have, and donate to and maybe even put on an ugly collector’s bib and hold a bucket for, is slapped in the face by the Government.
This time last year, Wellington Rape Crisis had to cut its services, despite the increase in clients. They just couldn’t keep up. The Government refused to properly fund them, and with many other agencies in the same position, private funders and trusts were giving fewer and fewer grants.
Rape Crisis was saved by a huge community effort and Hell Pizza giving them guilt money for rewarding someone’s admission of sexual assault with free pizza. I wish I was joking.
And now, a year later, they might have to close again. Why? Because shortfalls in Government funding don’t disappear unless that funding increases. Especially not when Rape Crisis has seen their client numbers triple.
Wellington Rape Crisis is called that because sexual violence is at crisis point in this country, and sadly, that’s not going anywhere. While crime rates are supposedly dropping, the rates of reported sexual violence are on the rise. And that’s just what’s reported.
This is not a cry to the community to find finding for Rape Crisis again. This is not a hope that some corporate fucks up and has to give feel-good money to a struggling agency to make themselves feel better. That isn’t sustainable, and it isn’t ethical.
This is a call to write to Paula Bennett, the minister responsible for sexual violence, and tell her that this continual threat of closure of such a vital service is unacceptable. Tell her that private funding should not be relied upon to keep social services open, especially ones so many people don’t want to think or talk about. Tell her that these services, which are so often the difference between life or death (both metaphorically and literally) for their clients, need a funding model that gives them security and continuity of service.
Wellington Rape Crisis has better work to do than co-ordinate an annual guilt-fest scramble for funding. Their resources could be better spent doing things like, you know, actually staying open and helping their clients and the community.
There is an inquiry into the funding of sexual violence services being undertaken by Parliament at the moment. And that’s great. But there’s no guarantee what they’ll recommend, or whether the Government will do anything about it. After all, we could be spending money on Team New Zealand.
Don’t wait for the inquiry. Wellington Rape Crisis needs help now. Again. You can write to Paula Bennett at Paula.Bennett@parliament.govt.nz.