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Smith continues to hurt abuse victims, survivors

Lynne Pillay MP
Victims Rights Spokesperson

9 March 2010
Media Statement
Nick Smith’s mismanagement continues to hurt sexual abuse victims and survivors
Victims and survivors of sexual abuse are caught in a bureaucratic nightmare that has seen just 32 people approved for counselling nationally in the first two months of this year, Labour’s Victims Rights spokesperson Lynne Pillay says.

“In January and February 2009 ACC approved 472 sensitive claims enabling survivors of sexual abuse to access the counselling services they need. This year however just 32 people nationally have had their cases for counselling approved for the same period.

“While 112 people have had their cases for ACC support declined, hundreds of people are languishing in no man's land waiting for their claims to be processed,” Lynne Pillay said.

“If this is the National Government’s idea of frontline services, then heaven help anyone who needs support.

“Counsellors and psychotherapists have told me that hold-ups, reams of paperwork and blatant cost cutting are now the norm when they try to support a sexual abuse victim’s case for counselling,

“Changes made by the National Government for people accessing counselling services have been an unmitigated disaster that has caused people who have suffered at the hands of sexual predators even more suffering.

“ACC Minister Nick Smith promised to hold a six monthly review of the changes he has initiated. However, nearly six months after first announcing the review he has yet to even determine the Terms of Reference and so far not one psychotherapist who I have had contact with has been consulted about the review.

“I now firmly believe that under pressure from victims, survivors, counsellors and the public Dr Smith simply announced a review without actually doing anything about it.

“Meanwhile people in desperate need of counselling services are going without, because Dr Smith simply refuses to accept that the policy that he instituted is failing dismally.

“Dr Smith’s entire handling of this issue is a disgrace. His changes have moved the goalposts now making it almost impossible for victims and survivors to receive the help they deserve

“Professionals working in this field have described the new process and guidelines a bureaucratic minefield that it is designed to cut costs rather than help those victims and survivors who have sought help.

“People who have suffered at the hands of paedophiles and rapists deserve better,” Lynne Pillay said.

ENDS

Attachments:

01228_2010__PQ_01228_2010_Table.pdf

12452 (2009). Hon David Parker to the Minister for ACC (14 Aug 2009): How many sensitive claims did ACC approve for each month for the year so far in 2009?
Hon Dr Nick Smith (Minister for ACC) replied: Accepted Sensitive Claims Jan-09 274 Feb-09 198 Mar-09 277 Apr-09 236 May-09 187 Jun-09 213 Jul-09 205

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