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ACC: Creating barriers to recovery

ACC: Creating barriers to recovery

The ACC Minister is right, says the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ), the system and support for counselling of sexual abuse victims does need an overhaul. None of the required changes however, are currently on his table.

NCWNZ supports the key findings of the recently released Ministry of Women’s Affairs report, Responding to sexual violence: Environmental scan of New Zealand agencies (September 2009) which sets out the many changes that are needed:

• The cost of services is a barrier; the counselling should be fully funded by ACC.

• ACC should assist with the costs of transport/childcare necessary to support victims to access appropriate services.

• Currently those sexually abused/assaulted outside of New Zealand but now residing in New Zealand do not qualify for ACC. This means that ethnic minorities, migrants and refugee groups are unable to access the counselling services necessary for recovery.

• Subsistent funding of counsellors has created the shortfall in availability of services, hence unreasonable waiting lists exist.

• Rape crisis centres and other community-based organisations specialising in sexual abuse are not sufficiently resourced, hence the limited geographical coverage and inability to meet demand.

• Under the current system, the delay in gaining approval from ACC for assistance to partially meet the costs of treatment, has been alarmingly protracted. This puts extra pressure on victims and can lead to increased fear and anxiety.

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While the Minister has been dismissing the claims that the changes to ACC funding rules for survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault, due to come into force on October 27, are not part of the ACC cost recovery plan, most women do not accept this.

“Instead of taking the razor out to reduce the budget for sexual abuse counselling directly, policy changes have been made which make the path to help and recovery more difficult, unattractive and risky,” said Elizabeth Bang , NCWNZ National President.

“Victims will be expected to tell their story three times to show that the sexual abuse has led to a mental injury,” said Elizabeth Bang . “This is not in the best interest of the victim; it is a large amount of red tape put in place to limit the number of claims that ACC will cover.”


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