Louise Nicholas Day 2015, Dr Kim McGregor

 

Nga Mihi Kia Koutou, Thank you Papa Fred for the Karakia and Welcome

 

Kim McGregor taku ingoa. I am the Executive Director of RPE.

 

Thank you to everyone for coming to the Second Annual Louise Nicholas Day to Review Responses to Sexual Violence.

 

Thanks must go to the RPE Board, staff and volunteers for organising and hosting this event.

Thanks also to Kelly Maung of the Auckland Council for arranging this venue for us.

A special thank you goes to our impressive line-up of speakers who have travelled from far and wide to make this evening possible.

 

These are very busy people who have chosen to give priority to this important event. You will soon see when you hear from each of them, how committed and passionate they all are about this kaupapa.

 

Before I invite the speakers to talk to you for 10 mins each about their Mahi and their Goals for improving responses to sexual violence in 2015, I would like to just remind us of what this day is about.

 

The annual Louise Nicholas Day to Review Responses to Sexual Violence came about after Women’s Health Action, in 2013, invited our specialist sector in Auckland to focus, at their annual Cartwright panel, on the 1 in 100 cases of sexual violence that is likely to result in a conviction. After the panel some of us decided we needed our Own ‘Day’ – an annual event focused on sexual violence.

 

Louise with the courage and tenacity that she represents was the obvious patron.

The date of the Louise Nicholas Day to Review Responses to Sexual Violence, on 31st March each year marks the anniversary of the day in 2006 when three existing and former members of the NZ Police were acquitted on all 20 counts of the sexual violation of Louise.

 

When we asked Louise in 2013 she was happy to give her name to an annual day that reviewed any progress in dealing with sexual violence.

 

We envisaged that this day could be taken up anywhere in the country. This Day is an opportunity to for any community to review progress in their own area.

 

RPE launched the Inaugural Louise Nicholas Day last year and the speakers set their goals for 2014.

 

Before I read out the three overall high level goals for last year, it is important to provide you with a very brief potted history of our fight to provide specialist SV support services throughout the country. This history can help guide us in setting our future goals.

We need to learn from what has worked and what has not worked in our advocacy. We have taken many steps forward and many steps backward along our recent journey.

 

The reason Louise was battling without any specialist support through the criminal justice system 2004-2007 was because our specialist sexual violence support services had been severely reduced through at least 2 decades of little resourcing.

 

This seems to have happened because somewhere in the 1990s, Government’s focus shifted more towards Family Violence.

 

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

 

Even though there was an established Family Violence Taskforce there have never been any representatives from Rape Crisis or any of the Specialist Sexual Violence support services on the Family Violence Taskforce.

 

Family Violence (FV) and Sexual Violence (SV) are both similar and different problems. For example Sexual Violence has different laws and the crime requires different treatments – for example especially for those with Harmful Sexual Behaviours – a key difference here, is that those working with perpetrators of family violence would not, for example, have to ask their clients about their masturbatory practices – which is essential when treating Harmful Sexual Behaviours. So while FV and SV specialists need to work together – each requires its own specialist approach.

 

By 2004 the RC collective of agencies had reduced from about 20 agencies to about 9, and the Te Kakano specialist Maori sexual violence support agencies had reduced from about 20 agencies to about 2. Several other specialist sexual assault agencies throughout the country had moved to do Family Violence work – because that’s where the funding had shifted to.

 

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

 

By mid 2006 some of us in the newly formed national network for specialist sexual violence services, Te Ohaaki a Hine National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together, were frustrated that Government seemed to have dropped SV off its agenda completely.

 

Towards the end of 2006, Louise and I flew to Wellington to meet with the Minister of Women’s Affairs. We had with us an outline of a ‘Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence’ designed by Kathryn McPhillips and Paulette Benton-Grieg from Auckland Help.

 

The draft Taskforce had 6 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.

 

In the meeting there was an important moment when the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Lianne Dalziel 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”.

 

Lianne managed to get us our Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence (TASV) that sat 2007-2009.

 

In the very first meeting we asked for ‘immediate funding’ especially for our frontline survivor services that appeared to be 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 2 years on the Taskforce –  in July 2009 – we handed the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence Report – with 70 recommendations – to a new National govt – at the start of the Global Financial 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 SV” – we were told that there was no money to implement the recommendations and so today – few of the TASV recommendations have ever been implemented.

 

To make matters worse, in 2009 ACC implemented the ‘Clinical Pathway’ that almost overnight cut access for survivors of sexual violence to counselling by up to 90% as it cut $6 million from the 2010 counselling budget. Virtually overnight our sector lost hundreds of specialist therapists.

 

During 2009-2010 – TOAHNNEST, specialist bodies, survivors and supporters marched through the streets. Some survivor’s even staged hunger strikes and, it is believed that some survivors took their own lives during this time because they couldn’t access the life-saving counselling support they desperately needed.

 

As a result of the huge country-wide protests, and questions in Parliament, a review of the ‘Clinical Pathway’ was undertaken, and TOAHNNEST and specialist bodies have worked with ACC to repair the damage done over years from 2009-2011.

 

We could speculate that examples such as the 2013 so-called ‘Roast Busters’ case, and the sex offenders brought to light in Kaitaia were a culmination of decades of no focus on sexual violence and no sexual violence prevention efforts.

 

  • Despite a number of setbacks over the last 10 years we have had some gains:
  1. A legacy of Minister Power has been some funding for SV prevention initiatives and coordination from about 2011.
  2. He also funded a number of Specialist Court Advisors throughout the country – (their role is within the Court however and does not extend outside the Court to support survivors of sexual violence and their families throughout the very long often 2-3+ years of the whole criminal justice process)
  3. Ministers Power and Collins continued Louise’s ‘National Sexual Violence Survivor Advocate’ role
  4. Minister Power commissioned the Law Commission, to begin research, nationally and internationally on sexual violence pre-trial and trial processes.
  5. Minister Bennett stepped up to be the lead Minister for SV issues in 2013 and finally in 2014 our sector was allocated $10.4 million over two years to stabilise our crumbling specialist SV support sector. This was the funding we were asking for back in 2005.

 

Given this history, last year at the 1st LN Day the three overall goals from 2014 were:

  • Sustained Government resourcing for specialist Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi sexual violence support services and prevention
  • Easy access to specialist Tangata Whenua and Tauiwi sexual violence support services and prevention.
  • Improvements to the current criminal justice system.

 

So, what have we achieved since 2014?

While none of these high level goals are likely to be achieved in one year, we are pleased that there have been some steps made towards them including:

  • allocations from the $10.4 million from government for specialist services over 2 years to stabilise specialist agencies particularly those at risk of closure are being rolled out
  • improvements in access to ACC counselling
  • ACC’s 3 year investment in SV Prevention including the development and piloting of a national high school sexual violence prevention programme: Mates and Dates
  • Select Committee Inquiry into Specialist SV Services Funding hearings are mostly completed – while we are still waiting for the final Cross Party report we are hopeful that the recommendations will follow the submissions and that the implementation of the recommendations will improve funding and access to specialist SV services
  • finally recently, Louise and I met with the Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, and we were pleased with her openness to consider the 2010 Law Commission research into improving pre-trial and trial process for SV cases.

 

Given this history of the Taskforce not being effective to implement improvements to resourcing and access to sexual violence services, and only a few individual Ministers being effective and stepping up over the last decade (and those that do often move on), my 2015 Goals are:

  • Sexual violence (and family violence) is moved into the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet to ensure high level
  • The recommendations from the Social Services Select Committee report on sexual violence services funding that reflect the submissions are implemented
  • Progress is made improving criminal justice responses to sexual violence cases

 

Given that most of our speakers have been a part of this struggle over much of the last decade at least, I will now invite each speaker to come up, introduce themselves and speak for 10 minutes about their work and what their 2015 goals are to improve responses to SV.

 

Thank you.