Shortland Street's Shavaughn Ruakere joins campaign to save crisis line

Shortland Street star Shavaughn Ruakere has written an open letter to Prime Minister John Key, calling on the PM to ensure Auckland’s 24/7 sexual violence crisis line remains open beyond Christmas.

Ruakere’s open letter joins with over 12,000 people who have signed a petition on Change.org calling on the Key government to stop the closure of the service.

Ruarkere says she was inspired to write the open letter to Key because of her recent experience on Shortland Star, in which her character Roimata was sexually assaulted in a story line. Ruakere relays the importance of the crises line based on this encounter in her letter to Key:

“I had the chance to talk to Help crisis line counselling staff to find out what it’s like for victims of sexual violence. In the middle of the night when they feel like they can’t go on, this service can be the difference between life and death. When court processes are underway, and women and children are testifying about what they’ve suffered, this is the service they call on. This experience has shown me we can’t afford to lose the crisis line.”

The Change.org petition starter Kirsty McCully says that it’s time for the government to keep its word.

“It’s surreal that within a year of committing to ongoing funding for this vital service, Key has back-flipped and pulled their funding,” Ms McCully says.

“It’s a real let down, and I think people really feel that Key has broken his promise to the Auckland community.”

“Last time, people poured their hearts out on Key’s Facebook page, explaining why they wanted the service saved. But it seems that the PM wasn’t really listening.”

“He’s letting an amount as small as $116,000—less than 1/3 of his annual salary—stand between the women and children of Auckland and the crisis service they need.”

The service has only three weeks of funding left before cuts have to be made.

 

Below is Shavaughn Ruakere’s letter to John Key:

 

Dear Prime Minister Key,

Last year, Auckland’s sexual violence crisis line was under threat of closure, and you stepped in to ensure the women and children of Auckland who were victims of sexual violence had somewhere to turn when they couldn’t carry on. New Zealanders were proud when your government said publicly that these services were important because we want to live in a society where our most vulnerable are treated with dignity.

I’m sad to be writing again because this crisis line is again under threat of closure — despite last year’s promise that it would receive ongoing sustainable funding.

Roimata, the character I play on Shortland Street was sexually assaulted in a recent storyline. Because of this, I had the chance to talk to Help crisis line counselling staff to find out what it’s like for victims of sexual violence. In the middle of the night when they feel like
they can’t go on, this service can be the difference between life and death. When court processes are underway, and women and children are testifying about what they’ve suffered, this is the service they call on. This experience has shown me we can’t afford to lose the crisis line.

That’s why I’m calling on you to step in again and make sure Aucklanders don’t have to go back to a time when those who have been raped or abused have no one to turn to.

Will you support the Auckland community by ensuring this service survives?

Yours sincerely,

Shavaughn Ruakere

 

(From a press release)

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