Thursday, 10 December 2009

ACC changes not working for victims of sexual violence

From the Herald yesterday:
Psychotherapists and counsellors say tight new rules for claiming ACC subsidies for sexual abuse counselling have become "a rapists' charter".

The national associations of psychotherapists, counsellors and social workers have released anonymous details of 54 cases showing longer delays and more rejections since the new rules took effect on October 27.

"ACC's own statistics show a serious reduction in approved claims," they said in a joint statement.

"This must please the rapists and paedophiles.

"They believe that what they do doesn't cause any harm - the new ACC pathway is a rapists' charter."

The new rules provide subsidised counselling only for sexual abuse victims with a diagnosed mental condition caused by the abuse, and generally only for up to 16 weeks before a further review.

Most counsellors and psychotherapists do not have specific training to make psychiatric diagnoses, so they have had to refer cases to psychologists or wait for ACC to get its own psychologists to assess clients.

Auckland's two main specialist agencies, Auckland Sexual Abuse Help and South Auckland's Counselling Services Centre, both said yesterday that they had still not had a single new ACC claim approved since October 27.
Click through for the rest of the article.

This is absolutely disastrous. For the sake of saving some money the Government has decided to cut support for people who have already gone through enough. Who are these changes actually working for? Certainly not those making sensitive claims.


homepaddock said...

Sexual abuse is not an accident. Assitance for victims should be funded through the health and justice systems not ACC.

Anonymous said...

But health and justice systems don't cover sexual abuse.

So being a constant pedant about how sexual assault isn't an accident doesn't help anyone at all.

While people state the obvious to feel superior people lives are at risk.

homepaddock said...

Are you sure heath and justice don't cover treatment for victims of sexual abuse?

They should.

Agitation to ensure they did would be better than trying to get ACC to cover what is definitely not an accident.

Richard said...

homepaddock said...
Sexual abuse is not an accident.

ACC, despite its name, is not only about accidents. It is about injuries. Of course, the current government may well want to obscure or change this fact, but nonetheless that is the current position.

From the ACC website:

What injuries am I covered for?

Wounds, lacerations, sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations and work-related injuries such as hearing loss may all be covered. Most physical injuries are covered if they’re caused by:

an accident
a condition that comes on gradually because of your work (gradual process)
medical treatment
sexual assault or abuse

There is a specific definition of ‘injury’ in the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation (IPRC) Act 2001, which is the law that ACC must apply when considering applications for claims and assistance.

ACC has to be satisfied that you have suffered a personal injury, which can mean any of:
physical injury
mental injury suffered due to physical injury
mental injury caused by certain criminal acts (sexual abuse or criminal injury)
damage (other than wear or tear) to dentures or prostheses that replace part of the human body
death due to a physical injury.

Hugh said...

Homepaddock, is the biggest issue here really the need to neatly distribute responsibilities between branches of government in order to make their titles more appropriate? Or is there perhaps something bigger at stake here?

But you know, even if you're sincere, what you are proposing - taking sexual abuse compensation funding from ACC and putting it somewhere else - is emphatically not what the government you support is doing. It's simply removing the funding. If you think the price of having the funding go is worth it in order to not have it delivered from an inappropriate agency then, hey, keep on rocking in the free world and all that, but I think you may find some people viewing your self-identification as a feminist with some suspicion.

Boganette said...

Well said Hugh.

stargazer said...

and just to reiterate what richard said, ACC will cover you if you get deliberately beaten in a criminal assault. why should that be covered, and sexual assault and abuse not covered, homepaddock? ACC covers injuries, not accidents.

homepaddock said...

I'm sorry, I was reacting out of ignroance - I didn't realise that ACC covered non accidental injuries.

Hugh - I've never self-identified as a feminist.

Amnion said...

Health, Police and ACC do fund treatments for sexual assault victims.

Whether you like it or not the scope of the The Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2) 2005 was amended to cover treatment of mental injury from sexual assault. The Law Commission had recommended such changes in 1988

Physical injuries from sexual assault, as all other injuries from other kinds of assault in NZ are also covered by ACC.

Lots of things that are covered by ACC are not 'accidents' in the random no fault sense of the word, and yet what could be more random and no-fault than sexual assault?

Amnion said...

There are other ridculousnesses about the changes to ACC for treatment of sexual assault mental injury , or "sensitive claims' funding.

The Act hasnt changed, but the recent changes do serve to fund less counselling for victims of sexual assault - who are fully entitled to treatment for mental injury as a result of sexual assault.

ACC is on a go slow, processing less than 4% of claims in the past 3 months last time I looked.

Doctors, sexual assault doctors, GPs, doctors in a counselling role ...these doctors are not regarded as competent to make DSMIV diagnoses of mental injury in the case of sexual assault.

No. So if you confide in your GP or the doctor treating your injuries from sexual assault, about your mental injury induced because of that sexual assault, it is not enough! You must see a psychologist (not a doctor) to have this special diagnosis made, and you must PROVE to them that you were indeed damaged by the sexual assault, that it was *bad enough* to cause you mental injury.

If you prove this to the satisfaction of this unmet, unknown, unchosen psychologist working for ACC, then you *might* qualify counselling partially-funded by ACC.

But receiving such assistance because your doctor, friend, trusted advisor, thinks you should have it? Forget it

It is bureaucracy created to deny more people treatment. 86% of sensitive claims have some counselling for a time and move on with life. 14%, a small number IMO, need more extensive counselling. Because of this terrible thing, people receiving more than their fair share, the system has been overhauled . So now 84% of claimants will need to prove they were really hurt, enough to have a mental illness, do recive part funding of the counselling they might need.

homepaddock said...

Point of clarification: I'm not suggesting victims of sexual (or any other) abuse shouldn't get the help they need.

Anonymous said...

Its not just the applicants who are being turned down who are being hurt either.

After my abuse I put in several mechanisms to help me cope. A dominant one being avoiding things that might trigger a spiral into a state of depression (which in me results in self harm) or a severe state of anxiety (unable to leave the house or even use the phone).

If I apply for my ACC counseling (which anybody who knows me is aware I need) and get turned down I know it will almost definitely trigger these reaction.

I cannot risk that as I have a child who has already lost a parent and cannot afford to lose another.

So I suffer.

I should not be fearing people whose job it is to help me.