The function of crisis support services responding to sexual violence perpetrated against adults and young people is to mitigate the psychological impacts of that sexual violence so that the survivor’s psychological, social, physical, economic and spiritual well-being can be restored. While this has been done from a “grass roots” perspective for the last 30 years, advances in science mean that we can now link what we do to the expanding evidence base. It is in the interests of survivors that our work is informed by this evidence.
In addition, funding streams are increasingly requiring such links between evidence base and practice. The purpose of this project was to update existing Good Practice Guidelines, building upon the findings of the initial project conducted in 2009. The development of Good Practice Guidelines aims to support good practice across the country to a range of population groups and provide the opportunity for transparency and accountability with service partners, NZ Police and DSAC trained medical staff, with service funders and our community.
This project seeks to:
- Review the principles of good practice for provision of crisis support services to survivors of sexual violence and the Vision for services
- Update the evidence base for the principles
- Extend the guidelines to working with survivors from diverse communities.
To achieve the latter, we formed research partnerships with people from a variety of communities, foremost among these being Māori/ tāngata whenua. Other communities or groups we partnered with to establish good practice when working with their members following sexual assault include: Pacific communities, Muslim women, people identifying as LGBTI, males, people with disabilities, and also people from Asian communities. While this is not an exhaustive list of those impacted by sexual violence, these groups have been chosen because of high numbers of survivors or the existence of particular challenges in service delivery.
In order to review and update the 2009 guidelines, our initial focus was on obtaining feedback and consultation with services, service partners and key stakeholders during the TOAH-NNEST annual hui 2015 (held in Whangarei). For this purpose, given the expertise of the sector, and the importance of capturing feedback, we presented a workshop at the hui to access a range of suggestions (via questionnaire and informal interviews) for the ongoing development of the guidelines.
The general feedback obtained from the sector in regards to the 2009 Guidelines was that:
- The Guidelines were content rich and captured significant practices of crisis work well, while also providing guidance for ongoing development.
- Some of the criticism included the limited availability of the guidelines to the sector (e.g. 50% of the questionnaire respondents were not able to access the Guidelines report and/or were unaware it existed). In addition, of those who had accessed the report, challenges finding specific information quickly (given the content load) were raised.
- Recommendations were made to provide improved dissemination of the guidelines information, in a way that was accessible to the sector (as a whole).