23 Feb 2013

Minister to oversee sexual violence organisations

10:18 pm on 23 February 2013

A government minister is for the first time being given responsibility for the organisations that help victims of sexual violence.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has taken on the role and says her top priorities will be to speak to the sector and deal with funding shortfalls.

She says sexual violence organisations, like other groups, struggle to get money from corporates.

Natalie Gousmett of Wellington Rape Crisis welcomes the move.

Natalie Gousmett of Wellington Rape Crisis welcomes the move. Photo: RNZ

Mrs Bennett says the sector often falls between various portfolios, such as police and health, so the one minister approach will help provide leadership.

An organisation which helps rape victims hopes the minister's role is a step towards increasing funding and services.

The agency manager for Wellington Rape Crisis, Natalie Gousmett, says the sector struggles with funding every year.

"We could be doing so much more. We have got a counselling waiting list, we sometimes have social work waiting lists. The demand keeps increasing for our service and we're struggling to just do the baseline."

Ms Gousmett says about a third of her organisation's annual budget comes from the Government, and the rest from sponsors and community fundraising.