10 Apr Victim Support Appeal Update: Almost $1.7 million paid to Christchurch victims so far
Victim Support has provided support to over 800 people directly affected by the 15 March Christchurch shootings and distributed almost $1.7 million in financial support to victims, the victims’ charity has confirmed.
The total $1,670,278 distributed includes $1,420,778 from funds raised and $249,500 from grants administered by Victim Support on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.
“Nothing we do can ever make up for the losses and injuries victims have suffered, but we are extremely grateful for the public’s support to make their situation even that little bit easier,” says Victim Support Chief Executive Kevin Tso.
“Every day we are seeing the huge impact the public’s generosity is having for victims, from having loved ones able to visit from overseas, to simple things such as relieving the stress of the weekly grocery shop.”
Mr Tso says this is the first time Victim Support had set up a crisis appeal fund. The fund was established to consolidate the outpouring of public support the organisation was receiving and was being supported in addition to its operational response to the incidents.
“Victim Support’s primary objective is to provide emotional, practical and financial support to victims. So, in addition to fundraising and providing financial support, we have more than 100 support workers providing a range of assistance to victims, as they are referred to Victim Support,” he says.
Support is available for those bereaved, injured, or who witnessed the events.
Once a victim is referred to Victim Support, they are assigned a Victim Support Worker who can advise them on the support available, including financial support, and arrange funds. It’s important that victims discuss any further financial needs they may have with their support worker so help can be provided.
“We’re so grateful for the many messages of appreciation we’ve received from victims, and we remain in awe of the strength and determination of the victims and Muslim community.”
The first payments from funds raised were made within days of the events and initial funding provided by Victim Support includes:
- $15,000 lump sum payment for each deceased family member*
- $5,000 lump sum payment for each person hospitalised
- Emergency grants for immediate expenses resulting from the incident, including funeral expenses, travel and accommodation for victims’ families, counselling, and other discretionary costs, assessed on a case-by-case basis.
These are initial criteria only to ensure immediate needs can be supported. Victim Support is consulting with victims and the affected community about the fair, transparent, and inclusive management of the remainder of the funds.
“It’s important to remember we are still less than four weeks since the shootings,” says Mr Tso.
“Our primary focus over that time has been to ensure that victims are being referred to us, that emotional and practical support are in place for them, that initial payments are made, and that the bereaved have their family by their side through this difficult time – wherever those family may have been residing.
“As we move out of that phase, our next challenge is to work with victims and the community to make sure the remainder of the funds are put to the best possible use.
“We’re already in very constructive dialogue with a number of representative groups, and building our own repository of identified needs based on our daily interactions with victims.
“$10 million is a lot of money, but if we look at the impact of the tragedy and the number of people affected, it’s clear that it can only provide a fraction of what has been taken from the community.
“Victims’ needs will continue into the months and years ahead, and we need to ensure funds are managed carefully to support present and future needs.
“Victims will also need support from government agencies like ACC and Work & Income.
“In the meantime, we’ll continue to work with victims to provide financial support for their immediate needs, and with government agencies like Work & Income and ACC to ensure that victims can receive further financial support available to them.”
*$10,000 from Victim Support’s public fundraising; $5000 from the Ministry of Justice Victim Assistance Scheme via its usual criteria.