National continue to target the vulnerable with their cuts. Their latest moves in cutting the budgets of Womens’ Refuges and a national Self-Defence course for girls are merely the latest example.
Womens’ Refuges face a nearly $700,000 cut in their budgets, which will severely affect their ability to provide a safe haven for women and children at the end of some shocking family violence. Whilst Paula Bennett talks about getting a white paper to discuss how to protect our children from abuse, she is hollowing out the services that will provide that protection.
From the Herald:
The 45 refuges have lost $382,200 from their national contract and just over $300,000 in contracts held by some refuges for family violence co-ordinator and child advocate jobs, which have been scrapped.
They don’t fit new ‘family-centred’ funding criteria, so Refuge chief executive Heather Henare says:
“We currently get paid $520 per client for just over 3000 [short-stay] clients, spread amongst the 45 refuges. Take $382,200 out and that reduces to $251,” she said.
“We have to make a decision as to whether we can actually provide that service any more.”
It makes a mockery of National’s supposed focus on frontline services – what could be more frontline than protecting families from abusive partners?
Of course cutting backroom services makes no more sense. If we want to prevent violence we need the likes of Amokura, a $1 million-a-year family violence education initiative run by seven Northland iwi, which will close on June 30 because it does not provide “frontline” services. Prevention better than cure? Not for the short-termist ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff National party. Better to pay for the jails and hospital bills as they’re “frontline”.
Similarly with the cuts to the Girls’ Self Defence Project – their entire $377,000 budget has been cut, and their project will no longer exist. Over the past 15 years the project has taught self-defence to 77,000 vulnerable girls and increased the rate of sexual abuse disclosure – but that’s apparently a “nice to have”.
So: less than $700,000 to save the Womens’ Refuges or the more than $600,000 on tax cuts on government MPs’ parliamentary salaries – I know which one I think is the “nice to have”.