23 Mar 2011

Turia signals changes to family violence funding

6:57 pm on 23 March 2011

Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia has indicated funding may be shifted from family violence prevention programmes to frontline anti-violence work.

The National Government on Tuesday signalled it will make cuts to a range of programmes to find $800 million in savings it says are needed to help meet the costs of the Christchurch earthquake.

Mr Key says deals made with National's support partners will also be re-examined as the Government seeks to make savings, including the Maori Party's social services initiative Whanau Ora.

Anglican archbishops have called on the Government to leave the prevention programmes alone until they are properly evaluated.

Mrs Turia, the co-leader of the Maori Party, was questioned in Parliament on Tuesday about the possible axing of Te Rito (the Family Violence Prevention Strategy), the Child Advocates programme and "It's Not OK" campaigns.

On Wednesday, Mrs Turia signalled that the Government wants to give more priority to frontline services, but will not be reducing overall spending on family violence or using the money for Whanau Ora, which has been allocated $134 million over four years.

Budget discussions about the future of Te Rito and other programmes are continuing, she says.

Bishops hold prayer vigil

Anglican bishops have held a prayer vigil at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul to highlight possible government cuts to family violence programmes.

Ten bishops and about 15 social service agency representatives gathered on the Cathedral's steps for the short service on Wednesday.

The bishops say the anti-violence programmes are working, but have not been properly evaluated and must not be changed until they are.

Any cuts would put children's lives at risk and threaten advances made in preventing violence, they say.