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Mid South Canterbury Women's Refuge manager Dawn Rangi-Smith

by Greta Yeoman

A funding boost for family violence victim support services is “well overdue”, a South Canterbury refuge spokeswoman says.

The 30% funding increase for refuges and other family violence victim support services was announced by the Government last week, as part of Budget 2018.

Support over wide range

Budget 2018 is expected to invest in children’s early intervention support, hospitals, education and biodiversity, as well as increasing the funding for family violence services.

The Budget will be presented at 2pm today by Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Pre-Budget announcements have included $21.5million over four years of extra funding for childhood early intervention services, which would give about 8000 more New Zealand children access to pre-school learning support.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage had also announced an extra $81.3million over four years for the Department of Conservation’s predator control work across the country.

Health was also expected to receive a boost to make sure hospitals were up to standard, while the country’s education system was set to get support, particularly for dealing with ageing buildings and increasing enrolments, Mr Robertson said.

New Zealand’s transport network was set to get an upgrade, especially through the $1billion a year investment into the Provincial Growth Fund.

Mid South Canterbury Women’s Refuge manager Dawn Rangi-Smith said the increase in financial support would be the first in a decade.

“We are absolutely thrilled.”

Social Development minister Carmel Sepuloni said about 150 Ministry of Social Development-funded service providers would receive a share of the additional funding, estimated to be about $76.15million over four years.

About half of the service providers would be refuges, Ms Sepuloni said.

While the refuge’s national body had confirmed the South Canterbury organisation would receive a funding boost, it was unclear how much, Mrs Rangi-Smith said.

However, it was well and truly welcomed by an organisation that had been funded to support 49 victims referred from police family violence reports in the past year, but which had actually helped 800 people. It had received funding for 460 phone calls to its crisis line, and dealt with 1800.

Despite the lack of funding, the refuge workers were compelled to help any resident in Mid and South Canterbury who approached the service for support, Ms Rangi-Smith said.

“We can’t just say ‘wait, hold on’.”

She said all refuges across the country were in a similar situation, so a funding increase was definitely welcomed.

“It’s well overdue.”

“We’re just thrilled that this is something that this Government is taking really seriously.”