Louise Nicholas Day 2014 – Dr. Kim McGregor

Nga Mihi Kia Koutou and Welcome

*Thank you everyone for coming this evening to help us launch the inaugural Louise Nicholas Day to Review Responses to Sexual Violence.

With your help, today we plan to set our goals for the coming year.

We plan to measure these goals annually on or about the 31st March each year.

Tomorrow, on the actual Louise Nicholas Day, we will collate the goals from this meeting and send them to the Lead Minister for Sexual Violence issues – Paula Bennett

This Day came about after some in our sector took part in the Annual Cartwright talk last year. Our topic was 1 in 100 representing the 1 in 100 cases of Sexual Violence that results in a conviction.

After the Cartwright panel, I was discussing needing our ‘Own Day’ with my colleague Kathryn McPhillips. Kathryn said we needed a Patron. Someone with a high profile and standing right next to us was Louise.

Louise was the obvious choice! Louise represents survivor bravery and courage.

When I first met Louise in 2006 I could see her humble determination to support the provision of services and justice for all those affected by sexual violence.

So, from 2006 I campaigned with various government officials and Ministers to gain Louise a salary. Through RPE, in August 2008, Louise was appointed to the role of National Sexual Violence Survivor Advocate.

In the last six years that I have worked along-side Louise I have witnessed her change the hearts and minds of members of the NZ Police, Law makers, Politicians and many different Communities of people.

Louise has been named:

  • Herald NZ of Year in 2007
  • In 2008, Louise and Phil Kitchin were named ‘North and South’s – New Zealanders of the Year for the Community’
  • And in 2009 Louise was named as one of the Top 10 Greatest Living New Zealanders!

When we announced the Louise Nicholas Day of Review, Alison Broad Chairwoman Women’s Self Defence Network Wahine Toa (Inc) emailed to say:

“When we received notice of the launch, there were whoops of delight from all around New Zealand for this very public celebration and validation of Louise and her courage.

There seem few better possible outcomes than transformation of The System –and this is a great way to give that transformation a Strong Push Forwards.”

So WELCOME to the inaugural Louise Nicholas Day that is about reviewing our progress in improving services and justice for those affected by Sexual Violence.

Thank you for being a part of this launch.
House keeping:

  1. First of all Self-care – With such a high prevalence of SV -approximately 1 in 3 to 5 females and 1 in 6 to10 males being affected all of us are at least like to know someone affected by sexual violence So, please all take note of the Auckland Help Support Number: 623-1700 This is a wonderful 24/7 service that has been running for 30 years.
  2. Please be aware that toilets are at the back of the room
  3. And in case of a fire or earthquake – please move out through the exit behind you – to the car park.

I would like to give some thanks:

  1. To begin I’d like to thank the organisers and supporters of this event – the staff, volunteers and Board of RPE. At RPE we have been working for weeks to organise this launch. So thanks also to the RPE staff today who have pitched in to help Set up / Clean up / Cater and even Borrow a microphone for us to use today. I’m very proud of all involved in RPE. I am privileged to work with an amazing group of dedicated, hard-working people.
  2. Thanks also to the Auckland Council – and particularly Kelly Maung for the free use of this Hall
  3. And finally, thank you to our speakers for giving their time for free. These are very busy people who have chosen to give priority to this launch. You will soon see when you hear from each of them, how committed and passionate they all are about this kaupapa.

 

Format of this Evening

  • In a moment I will provide a brief background of our advocacy to date and my goals
  • After that Louise will speak a little about her journey and she will outline her goals
  • Following Louise, each of our other 6 speakers has 5-10 mins to outline their goals to 2014 and beyond
  • After all the speakers have finished – we will read out a summary of the goals
  • You will be asked to vote on the goals – through a show of hands. We will use a simple majority of the room to show which goals have your support.
  • You can vote for all of the goals if you wish – no matter how many.
  • After this formal part of the launch we will open the meeting to questions from you to the speakers
  • Russell Smith will close our hui on or before 7pm and then
  • Refreshments and networking.

Background to the struggle to provide Sexual Violence services throughout Aotearoa

To begin we need to honour the Maori Women’s Welfare League of the 1950s, and the Rape Crisis and Te Kakano services that from the 1970s have been the mothers and backbone of this work

These frontline services flourished after Minister of Women’s Affairs Ann Hercus gave some funds to this specialist sector in the mid-1980s.

Through the 1980 and 1990s over 40 services throughout the country provided wrap around services including child sexual abuse awareness and child protection training to social workers and police, they also provided prevention work, early intervention in the form of support for forensic medicals, police statements – as well as ongoing counselling and court support for survivors and their families.

From this era emerged specialist trained medical personnel through the wonderful organisation DSAC, the Harmful Sexual Behaviour specialist sector, specialist work with male survivors of sexual violence and specialist work with children and families.

Somewhere in the 1990s Government’s focus shifted more towards family violence.

By 2000 in Wellington the Rape Crisis National Office had closed.

And by 2004 the RC collective of agencies had reduced to about 9 services, and the Te Kakano specialist Maori sexual violence support agencies had reduced from about 20 agencies to about two. Several other specialist sexual assault agencies throughout the country had shifted to do family violence work because that’s where the funding had shifted to.

By 2005 due to a lack of funding – it seemed to us that almost one specialist sexual violence agency, per month, was closing. For example when I started at Rape Crisis Auckland (now called Rape Prevention Education) in February 2005, it was bankrupt and I had to decide whether to fight to keep the agency open or walk out and close the door.

The result of lack of funding was that there has been inadequate specialist sexual violence services for families who need these essential services.

There are big gaps around the country where there are no specialist services – particularly in rural areas, and where there ‘are’ services there are often long waiting lists.

In 2005 Kathryn McPhillips called for the sector to meet to discuss ways to stop the specialist sexual violence intervention sector from completely collapsing.

We met at a conference in Taranaki in May 2005 and decided to form a national bi-cultural network to get sexual violence back on the political agenda. This was the birth of TOAHNNEST.

In 2006 we in TOAHNNEST were forming into two caucus groups The Maori Caucus – Nga Kaitiaki Mauri and the Tauiwi Caucus. We were writing our constitution and our relationship agreement and working as a steering group to form our Executive and we were gathering members, when the case against Rickard (the current Assistant Police Commissioner), and Shipton and Shollum (two former NZ Police officers) accused of raping Louise Nicholas in the 1980s resulted in 20 acquittals on 31 March 2006.

After the trial, when the public discovered that Shipton and Shollum were already serving prison sentences for rape convictions, the public held protests throughout the country.

Prior to speaking at the Auckland protest march, I phoned the then Minister of Justice – Mark Burton – and said that TOAHNNEST was calling on the government for a Taskforce on sexual violence

Not long after the protests, I met with Louise.

At the time TOAHNNEST was frustrated that we still didn’t have a taskforce, so, towards the end of 2006, Louise and I flew to Wellington with an outline of a ‘Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence’ designed by Kathryn McPhillips and Paulette Benton-Grieg.
It had six Terms of Reference that covered work addressing: Prevention, Early Intervention, Ongoing Support, Harmful Sexual Behaviour, changes to the current Criminal Justice System and Alternatives to the current Criminal Justice System. We met with the then Minister of Women’s Affairs – Lianne Dalziel.

In the meeting there is an important moment when Lianne said to Louise: “Louise, Every Woman in this country is talking about your case. And they are saying that if they were raped they would not report to the Police and go through the gruelling adversarial court processes that you went through. As the Minister of Women’s Affairs it is important to try to get you this Taskforce”.

Early in 2007, Lianne called me to say “Kim, you have your Taskforce”.

At this moment all of us in TOAHNNEST were exhausted from trying to keep our agencies open with little resourcing, at the same time as we were lobbying to government for action on sexual violence, as well as working to set up the national network. Of course we weren’t going to let a little exhaustion from stopping us working on our own Taskforce!

So we found the energy we needed to begin to partner with government and for the first time ever in this country we were part of developing an inspiring bi-cultural / sector and government partnership focused on sexual violence.

In July 2007 the TASV officially began.

In the very first meeting we asked for ‘immediate funding’ especially for our frontline survivor services that were still closing one by one.

The Government response was “We can’t just give you money. We need to know where to focus the funding”.

So the Taskforce undertook doing literature reviews, stocktakes, and scoping, – to work out where to focus any future funding.

After another two years of hard work running our agencies and sitting on the Taskforce six terms of reference with its 20 different working groups – in July 2009 – we handed the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence Report – with 70 recommendations – to a new National government – at the start of the global economic collapse.

Despite the Taskforce report being described by then Minister of Justice, Simon Power as “The best roadmap ever received by a government to address sexual violence” – we were told that there was no money to implement the recommendations and so today – few of the TASV recommendations have ever been implemented.

During the Taskforce one of the 20 working groups, worked on Improving ACCs responses to survivors of SV.

Unknown to us in the specialist sector, while we were working in good faith to improve ACC responses through the Taskforce, another separate group in ACC under Graham Bashford and Peter Jansen was working – within the ACCs Sensitive Claims Unit – to develop a new “Clinical Pathway”.

In October 2009 despite TOAHNNEST trying to mount a High Court injunction to stop the Clinical Pathway, and specialist professional bodies advising ACC against it, ACC introduced the “Clinical Pathway” – that virtually overnight cut up to 90% of counselling claims and $6 million from the counselling budget – which in turn lost us hundreds of specialist therapists – because they had no more clients to work with.

During 2009-2010 – TOAHNNEST, specialist bodies, survivors and supporters marched through the streets of this country yet again.

Some survivor’s even staged hunger strikes. And, it is believed that some survivors took their own lives during this time as they couldn’t access the life-saving counselling support they desperately needed.

As a result of the huge country-wide protests, a review of the Clinical Pathway was undertaken, and TOAHNNEST and specialist bodies are currently, again working with ACC to repair the damage done over 2-3 years from 2009.

Even though that was one of our darkest times, there were ‘some’ positive gains during this time from 2009-2011 when TOAHNNEST was meeting with the first lead Minister of Justice, Simon Power

Through the Ministry of Justice, Simon Power allocated:

  1. $500,000k per year for Sexual Violence Prevention for two years
  2. He also set up a number of Specialist Court Advisors throughout the country
  3. And he extended Labour’s funding through RPE for Louise’s ‘National Survivor Advocate’ role, to a 3 year contract.
  4. He also commissioned the Law Commission, to begin research, nationally and internationally on sexual violence pre-trial and trial processes.

We are pleased that Minister Collins has continued to support most of these initiatives – and respectfully request allowing the Law Commission’s Research Recommendations to be published.

In 2012 when TOAHNNEST began working with its 3rd government, we campaigned strongly for the Lead Minister, this time, to come from the Ministry of Social Development. This is because only about 10% of crimes of sexual violence are reported to the Criminal Justice System.

So we were delighted when, early in 2013, Paula Bennett stepped up to be the ‘Lead Minister’ and began a Government Review of what different Ministries were doing to address Sexual Violence.

Another significant gain last year was – ACC beginning a 3 year Sexual Violence Prevention Plan.

And Jan Logie from the Green Party began a campaign to get the cross party Social Services Select Committee, to set up an Inquiry into Sexual Violence service’s funding.

To end, we have something to thank each of the three Parties here today for.

We thank Labour for giving us the TASV 2007-2009

We thank National for giving us the Minister of Social Development as the Lead Minister – and the initiatives the two National Ministers of Justice have supported.

We thank the Greens – particularly Jan Logie – for campaigning for the Cross Party Select Committee inquiry into sexual violence service’s funding. We hope that having a cross party plan will avoid us from having to start again each time the government changes.

What no government has given us to-date however is sustainable funding for our specialist services.

 

So to end, my speech – My goals for the Louise Nicholas Day are:

  • Funding in this year’s budget to help re-build the capacity of the essential specialist Maori and Tauiwi sexual violence services so that all of those affected by sexual violence have easy access to the services to be available to every community in Aotearoa.
  • And a 10 year plan – from the Select Committee to be adopted cross party – to implement the TASV recommendations.

*Disclaimer – this speech is from my perspective of these events. Other perspectives may differ.