When New Zealanders face crisis, Victim Support is there.
A free, nationwide service, Victim Support helps people who have been affected by crime, trauma, and suicide by providing them with emotional support, practical information, financial assistance, and advocacy.
Victim Support offers a 24/7 contact service which connects victims with a support worker in their area who can provide support where and when the victim needs it. This could be in their home, at the police station, at the scene of an incident, or over the phone.
A mix of staff and volunteers, the specially trained support workers help clients find safety, healing and justice after crime or trauma. Specialist services are provided for people affected by homicide or suicide, as these are specialised areas of bereavement.
“We’re there for people, often on their worst day, to provide emotional support, and to try and put some other supports in place to help carry them through their journey,” says Tauranga Victim Support Service Coordinator Jo Matthews.
“The first phone call we make is mostly about engagement and letting people know we’re there for them. It’s actually the second phone call that can be the most important for someone, because grief changes over time.
“For example, when someone passes away suddenly, the family goes into funeral and estate mode, and everybody comes together. It’s when everybody goes home again, and a person is on their own without their loved one that our call a couple of weeks later can be really valuable. Because that person is probably feeling really alone in their grief. Having someone to talk to, normalise how they’re feeling, and encourage them to do things like see a GP is powerful.”
Victim Support works closely with government and local agencies to provide collaborative, wrap-around support. These relationships enhance Victim Support’s service and help connect victims to the support they need.
“About 90% of our referrals come from the police,” says Jo. “The other 10% come through other organisations, such as the District Health Board, Tautoko Mai, and the courts. We also make referrals, helping to connect victims with the right support going forward.”
About 60% of the people Victim Support helps have been affected by serious crime and a large part of the organisation’s work involves supporting them through the justice system.
Navigating court trials, hearings, victim impact statements, and restorative justice conferences can be overwhelming and confusing for many. Victim Support can help to ease the burden of this process.
Victim Support was founded in 1986 as a volunteer organisation and volunteers continue to play a vital role. These extraordinary people make an extraordinary difference, says Jo.
“I can’t say enough about the volunteer workforce; they’re amazing with what they do, giving their time and passion. In 2022, the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty branch received 832 incidents, which equates to around 1,500-1,800 people who were supported.
“We always need more volunteers though. We’re always recruiting. The need doesn’t go away.”
Victim Support receives funding from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Social Development contracts. However, the organisation relies on fundraising, including grants from local funders, to help cover the costs of the support worker programme, says Jo.
“Funding from groups like TECT helps us, most importantly, to remain a free service and have that 24/7 response. Volunteers are key to that, and it costs to train volunteers, so that’s where community funding is certainly very important.”
TECT Trustee Rachael Gemming says the Trust was pleased to support an organisation that embodies manaakitanga with $20,000 in funding.
“Victim Support is a service that we never want to need to access but are so grateful to have available when the time comes. When care and support are wrapped around a person who is struggling, they can feel heard, safe, less alone, and even empowered.
“TECT is committed to supporting the wellbeing of current and future generations in our region, and Victim Support is playing an important role in this space.”
To learn more about Victim Support, visit https://www.victimsupport.org.nz/