Bay of Plenty Times
PICTURE: MARK McKEOWN: TMAPS co-ordinator Jessica Trask is buried under a pile of paperwork.
Pushing paper instead of helping victims
By MICHELE McPHERSON
A lack of funding has left the co-ordinator of a family violence programme launched five months ago in Tauranga, desk-bound and struggling to find time to be out in the community.
Less than three weeks after the launch of the Government’s $14 million “Family Violence _ It’s not OK’ campaign, Jessica Trask of the Tauranga Abuse Prevention Strategy said most of her day is spent pushing paper.
A funding shortage has meant 20 hours of administrative support has recently had to be cut leaving Miss Trask to deal with paperwork and phone calls generated by up to 60 family violence callouts each week.
Time spent sourcing funding is now added to the list of tasks.
Her role previously included educating Western Bay residents on domestic violence _ something she now has little time for.
Miss Trask said that while the Government had poured $14 million into the national campaign, encouraging the public to ring in and report family violence, organisations and community groups had not received additional funding to deal with an increasing workload.
“What was 15 per cent of my role before now has become something like 70 per cent of my role and that’s largely paperwork,” said Miss Trask.
The strategy was 18 months in the planning and aims to bring agencies that deal with family violence together to stop families falling through the cracks and to educate the public on domestic violence.
This week marks the strategy’s five-month anniversary_ a lifespan that has proved too short to fully tap into crucial government funding received by similar organisations in Whakatane and Rotorua.
Miss Trask had been hopeful of receiving $80,000 funding from the Te Rito collaborative fund _ established by the Government in 2002 to ensure local agencies could work together to develop family violence prevention strategies in their region.
However, Ministry of Social Development spokeswoman Marti Eller said the strategy was not eligible for the amount granted to similar groups because it was not in existence during the original contestable funding round in 2003.
Conditions of the Te Rito fund stipulate that applications for a second round of funding _ securing $80,000 a year for three years _ were only open to the original applicants.
The strategy, known as TMAPS, lodged an application regardless and was able to secure $25,000 a year from an unspent allocation of the Te Rito fund nationally.
“The fact that the local team have worked hard to find funding for them (and will prioritise them should any further funding free up) is a tribute to what they have established,” said Ms Eller.
Miss Trask said TMAPS was appreciative of ongoing support from local Government funding agents but a lack of prioritisation of the Te Rito Strategy at a higher financial level meant successful community collaborations like TMAPS were under serious threat.
She had hoped Government funding would result in further expansion across the sector.
“It will mean a considerable shortfall and we will need to be looking to the community to help us to continue this,” she said.
“We don’t need a new strategy, the strategy’s been decided. We just need to fund it properly.”
Tauranga Women’s Refuge manager Hazel Hape said TMAPS, which works closely with 18 family violence related organisations in Tauranga, was a good initiative but its longevity was dependent on ongoing Government funding.
TMAPS was exploring other funding avenues.