Referrals to new survivor service

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by Greta Yeoman

Timaru’s new sexual assault survivor service has already received several referrals, only a month after it launched in South Canterbury.

The Sexual Trauma/Abuse Recovery (Star) Centre, based at the Mid-South Canterbury Women’s Refuge’s Sarah St premises, was opened on July 1.

Staff member Paula Knife said the centre was already supporting several women and expected numbers to increase as other organisations and the general population became more aware of it.

While most of the small number of clients they were supporting already were dealing with historic assaults, there had been one woman with a recent incident, she said.

Staff had also been meeting community representatives and organisations around the region since the launch.

This included a gathering of several Timaru organisations last Wednesday to inform them about the programme, and had been receiving good responses from the community, Ms Knife said.

“Community groups have been really, really positive.”

Refuge manager Dawn Rangi-Smith previously told The Courier the centre, which is under a Ministry of Social Development contract and is the first of its kind in South Canterbury, would provide support for survivors as well as their whanau.

The ministry had pitched the scheme, which covers South and Mid Canterbury, to the refuge after noticing gaps in services around the country.

Previously, the closest locations with sexual assault survivor organisations were in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Ms Knife said she had met a lot of people in organisations across the region who, when finding out about the service, had said they knew of someone to refer to the centre.

Her colleague, Janet Lorimer, reminded residents they were welcome to self-refer to the centre, for either historic or recent cases of sexual assault.

“You can just walk in .. just ring us.”

To contact the STAR Centre, ring the refuge on (03) 684-8280, 0800-00-7750 or visit 12 Sarah St, Timaru. All of the service’s clients need to be aged 18 and over. Those under 18 go directly under the care of Oranga Tamariki (the Ministry for Children).