Government heeds call to keep sex­ual abuse cri­sis line open

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The Government has stepped for­ward to save a 24-hour cri­sis line that was fac­ing dras­tic re­struc­ture if it couldn’t find fund­ing be­fore Christ­mas.

Min­is­ter for So­cial Devel­op­ment Paula Ben­nett met with staff from the Mt Eden-based Auck­land Sex­ual Abuse HELP and agreed to an in­terim fund­ing ar­range­ment for the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘‘I’ve heard their con­cerns and the Government is pre­pared to step in to keep the ser­vice run­ning with­out in­ter­rup­tion,’’ Ms Ben­nett says.

Con­tri­bu­tions will be made by the Min­istry of Health, Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment and the po­lice.

They have also com­mit­ted to a sus­tain­able three-year con­tract with ne­go­ti­a­tions to be fi­nalised in April 2013.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion had been des­per­ately seek­ing $116,000 to keep the cri­sis line op­er­at­ing on a 24-hour ba­sis af­ter fac­ing a fund­ing short­fall in Oc­to­ber.

More than 12,000 peo­ple had signed an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing on the Government to stop the clo­sure of the ser­vice and nearly 300 mes­sages of ap­peal had ap­peared on Auck­land Cen­tral MP Nikki Kaye’s Face­book page.

Short­land Street star Shavaughn Ruakere also wrote an open let­ter to the prime min­is­ter in sup­port of HELP.

Ms Ruakere was in­spired to write the let­ter af­ter her ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing the vic­tim of sex­ual abuse led her to speak­ing to staff at the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘‘In the mid­dle of the night when they feel like they can’t go on, this ser­vice can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death,’’ she wrote.

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