11 May 2020

Family violence funding: Māori NGO warns systemic overhaul needed

5:23 pm on 11 May 2020

The government's $202m funding boost for family violence services is welcome, but government procurement and pay equity still need addressing, sexual violence network Te Ohaakii a Hine says.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice Jan Logie (left) and Women's Refuge Chief ExecutiveDr Ang Jury at the announcement of the government's $202 million funding boost for family violence services.

Photo: Pool / NZME

The government has allocated $183m to ensure continued access to specialist family violence services, including services supporting victims of family violence, services to help perpetrators to stop inflicting family violence, and services to support victims of elder abuse.

Another $19.9 million will go towards a cross-agency initiative with police, justice and health to ensure victims of non-fatal strangulation can access highly trained medical practitioners, trained to deal with the trauma and for forensic services.

Te Ohaakii a Hine, or NNest - National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together - welcomed the funding, but urged the government to address the persisting problems of pay equity for non-governmental organisations (NGO).

The network's Ngā Kaitiaki Mauri spokesperson Joy Te Wiata said while the funding was timely and needed, many kaupapa Māori services across Family and Sexual Violence would continue to struggle to recruit and meet the growing demand for their services.

"We really struggle to find Māori staff because statutory organisations are able to offer higher salaries and Māori staff are snapped up really quickly," she said.

"That leaves us begging if you like. We've been advertising since last year for two kaimahi, we've just been able to start a wahine at the end of May but we still aren't able to find a tāne that we can recruit, and that isn't through lack of advertising either. Everything you can think of, we've already done it.

"We can offer them a good working environment and that can be a real drawcard to hold somebody once they come, but to get somebody in the first instance when we're not able to be as competitive with our salaries as we need to be means we don't get that opportunity."

She said whānau Māori were sometimes apprehensive about reporting violence to police.

"There are systemic inequities that exist and Māori services have really struggled to make headway generally so it's things right across the system for our people.

"They come to us but they're afraid to go, perhaps, to the police or through a judicial system because of the way they are treated.

"Injection of funds is brilliant and I don't want to underplay that but some of these other systems definitely need an overhaul.

"Including the way government procures services, that sort of thing, they need to be prioritising criteria that supports real systemic connection for Māori."

Tauiwi chair Maggy Tai Rakena also backed the new funding, but said there remained a greater challenge to the substantiality of the NGO social service sector.

"It is vital that the government also addresses the pressing issue of pay equity for NGO social services," she said.

"This sector has never been adequately paid for the work it actually does let alone in a sustainable manner.

"This means that we spend significant time and effort on fundraising when this could be better directed into providing services. High quality services require salaries that reflect the level of skill and responsibility involved."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs