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Protesters March Against ACC Cuts

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Marchers arrive at Parliament.

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Protesters gathering at the Cenotaph.

Wellington citizens from all walks of life convened at the Cenotaph this afternoon to protest the ACC's recently proposed cuts to its counselling programs for sexual abuse victims. The proposed changes would require those seeking treatment to be evaluated and subsequently qualify for counselling; only individuals diagnosed as having a mental illness resulting from their trauma will be provided treatment.

Organising group End Rape Culture Now! designated today as the National Day of Action Against the ACC, spearheading several other protests taking place in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Students, adults, and children in strollers amassed behind a banner reading "Counselling is a Right, No ACC Cuts" and marched to Parliament and the ACC building earlier this afternoon.

At the Parliament forecourt marchers wrote messages in chalk, "Being abused is like being hit by a train, only it lasts longer" reads one, "People Before Profit" reads another.

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“These changes will have a negative impact on society and make it even harder for survivors to take the courageous step to speak up,” said Miriam Sessy, spokesperson for End Rape Culture Now! in a press release last week. "We want to build communities that oppose the culture of silence around sexual abuse, rather than implementing reforms that effectively remove the voice of survivors."

Protesters chanted, "Sixty days is too late!" referring to the length of time between an individual's initial contact with ACC and the beginning of their treatment, which is currently estimated to be anywhere from 28 to 60 days.

Labour leader Phil Goff addressed the crowd on the Parliament steps, voicing his concern over the bureaucratic red tape that could deter victims from seeking help.

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Labour Party leader Phil Goff.

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A message on the Parliament forecourt.

Emotions ran high as the crowd made its way to ACC headquarters. Some wiped away tears furtively while still more raised their voices demanding change from Minister of ACC Nick Smith.

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Marcher at the ACC headquarters.

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Messages on the ACC building.

Protestors covered the ACC building with messages on bright yellow, pink and green notes, scrawled them in chalk on the sidewalk, the windows and exterior blue walls. Many messages address Minister Nick Smith directly:
"Cuts Don't Heal Nick!"
"People Before Profits, Nick!"

"Brave survivors," reads one note posted on the ACC headquarters, "Shouldn't be silenced by bureaucracy."

For more information about today's march and further actions please see the following press release from End Rape Culture Now!:

For more information about current ACC policies please visit the following website:


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