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Enhancing ACC support for sexual abuse survivors

ACC Media Release

16 October 2009


Enhancing ACC support for survivors of sexual abuse with a mental injury

• Changes reflect four years’ work aimed at improving client outcomes
• ACC committed to working with sector to implement, review and refine changes
• New approach reflects evidence-based, best practice

From 27 October 2009, ACC will introduce some changes to enhance the way it manages sensitive claims – that is, claims for mental injury resulting from sexual abuse or sexual assault.

“The changes will initially apply to new claims only, and are designed to build on the level of care, understanding and support we currently provide to all clients who have survived the trauma of sexual abuse or assault but have a resulting mental injury,” says ACC’s Chief Executive, Dr Jan White.

The changes will:
• reduce the time it takes ACC to make claim decisions, so treatment and support can be started more promptly
• enable diagnosis of a client’s specific condition and needs earlier in the assessment phase, to enable the appropriate support to be identified
• provide greater focus on working towards clearly defined recovery goals, to enable clients to recover sooner and more successfully.

“As always, we will continue to match clients with the most appropriate health professional for their needs,” says Dr White. “Where possible, we’ll offer clients a choice of suitable practitioners in their region.

“ACC appreciates that sensitive claims need to be handled with the utmost care and sensitivity,” says Dr White. “Every effort will therefore be made to minimise the number of health professionals that a client needs to see during their assessment and treatment. However, this will be balanced against ensuring clients receive the assistance they need to make a successful recovery.”

An important feature of the changes is that they will focus on providing clinically-based treatment over a shorter timeframe (typically around 16 treatment sessions).


“This is because research shows this achieves the best outcomes for clients,” says Dr White. She stresses, however, that “There is no treatment cap, and clients needing longer-term support will continue to have access to this.

“ACC is committed to working with health professionals and the wider sector to review its new approach, and keep improving the service it provides to clients with a sensitive claim. We’re also about to start work on enhancing specific treatment and support processes for Māori, children and those with an intellectual disability.”

The enhancements planned from 27 October 2009 are underpinned by new guidelines developed by Massey University.

“These guidelines represent a significant landmark in the treatment of mental injury resulting from sexual abuse,” says Dr White, “because they’re developed by New Zealanders for New Zealanders; are evidence-based; and the product of four years’ extensive research and consultation.”

To ensure health professionals are fully informed about the changes, ACC will supply them with information packs.

By law, ACC can only accept sensitive claims from those diagnosed with a mental injury resulting from the sexual abuse they’ve suffered. Other agencies are available to assist sexual abuse survivors who have not developed a diagnosed mental injury.

Concerned clients or victims of sexual assault or abuse, or their family or friends, can contact ACC directly on a freephone number (0508 222 233) or by email (sensitiveclaims@acc.co.nz). ACC will run a series of advertisements in metropolitan and regional newspapers this weekend (17 and 18 October 2009) to alert people to these details.


Ends

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