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National Day of Action against ACC cuts

Media Release: End Rape Culture Now! Campaign (Auckland)
National Day of Action against ACC cuts
Friday October 16th 2009

End Rape Culture NOW! Campaign has declared Monday 19th October a national day of action against ACC's planned cuts to counseling for sexual abuse survivors.

From October 27th ACC is changing its criteria so only those diagnosed as having a mental disorder will be eligible for ACC funded counseling.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 8 men will be affected by sexual abuse in their lifetime. The effects of such a traumatic experience are diverse, but it takes an average of up to 16 years for survivors/victims to break out from the silence.

Spokesperson for the End Rape Culture Now! Campaign Miriam Sessa says, “These changes will have a negative impact on society and make it even harder for survivors to take the courageous step to speak up. 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.”

Chair of the Tauiwi (Pakeha) section of the National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together, Dr Kim McGregor argues that some counselors are “ethically opposed to using psychiatric diagnosis for sexual violence”, as such a diagnosis re-victimises survivors.

“Being diagnosed with a mental illness can have a huge impact on people's lives as particular situations, such as mortgage applications or job interviews may require you to disclose such information”, says Ms Sessa.

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Rape Crisis centres around the country are already finding it difficult to survive due to funding cuts by the National-led government. Under these reforms, survivors not fitting within the new ACC guidelines will effectively be left without support.

Ms Sessa says, “Making survivors jump through bureaucratic hoops to get the support they need will contribute to the trauma of sexual abuse by further disempowering people who have already been through a traumatic and disempowering experience.

“This change is clearly a cost cutting measure, the latest in a long list of cuts to public services. We request that ACC take a serious look at the long term effects this proposal will have on many New Zealanders and stop these new guidelines being implemented.”

Since hearing of these reforms, over 4000 people have signed an online petition calling for a stop to the proposed funding cuts to sexual abuse counseling. In addition, marches around the country have been organised for next Monday 19th October.

AUCKLAND: Meet at 12pm, Albert Park band rotunda, CBD
WELLINGTON: Meet at 12.30pm, Cenotaph
CHRISTCHURCH: Meet at 12.30pm, Speakers Corner, Cathedral Square (beside Chess Board)
DUNEDIN: Meet at 3pm, ACC offices (Corner Maclaggan & Clark Streets)


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