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Real reasons for change in abuse claims policy

 
Press Statement from the New Zealand Association of Counsellors            21:11:09

ACC comes clean about real reasons for change in Sexual Abuse Claims Policy

ACC Southern Manager Karen Walsh, speaking at Fairlie Lions Club on Thursday 19 November  revealed that it is ACC policy to reduce the number of Sensitive Claims. 

In October ACC introduced a new “Pathway” which involves forcing claimants to undergo a psychiatric assessment prior to their claim being accepted. This policy has had the effect that ACC wants; a serious reduction in accepted claims. The Sensitive Claims Unit are declining claims in much greater numbers than previously and therefore preventing the victims of sexual crimes from getting the treatment and rehabilitation they need and are entitled to in the law.

“ACC have been using spurious excuses for these changes” said NZAC spokesperson Elayne Johnston; “first they said that the changes were made to comply with Guidelines produced by Massey University. This has not stood scrutiny and Massey have distanced themselves from ACC and the use of their name to support punitive policies”.

“As we suspected the real reasons for these changes have now been revealed, it is about money not the provision of services to victims of sex crimes.”

“In the meantime many victims of sexual crimes are suffering the humiliation of psychiatric diagnosis, or not coming forward at all. Many of those who continue to seek help are having their claims declined. This is the equivalent to not being believed, a common experience of both adult and child victims of sex crimes.”

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“Every day I receive emails from members about clients’ claims that are being declined for a range of reasons that include:

·         Previous history of psychological problems

·         Inability to access GP’s notes

·         Claimant for childhood abuse being in a “dysfunctional family”.

·         Incident took place “too long ago”.

 

Members also report a significant drop in the number of people coming forward for help; I believe the new scheme is putting them off.”
    

“It is very difficult ethically for our members to be part of a system that has so much potential for harm” says NZAC Ethics Convener, Eric Medcalf. “That this system has been created by health professionals with their own ethical codes, all of which will direct that they “do no harm”, makes me sure that in the long run they are vulnerable to personal ethical investigation”.

It is time that the government recognised the sham of this ACC change and commissioned an enquiry into services for victims of sex crimes.
ends

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