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Protestors To Picket Nick Smith


Protestors To Picket Nick Smith on Monday 30th November.

AUCKLAND: After a successful TAKE BACK THE NIGHT march on Friday 27th November, women's groups and survivors are geared up to protest the National Party's cuts to sexual abuse counselling.

On Nov 27th, about 60 people gathered at Albert Park, Auckland, for a TAKE BACK THE NIGHT rally and then marched to Myers Park, to protest sexual violence. Speakers Leonie Morris (Auckland Women's Centre) and Kate Brady Kean (Auckland Sexual Abuse Help) critiqued new ACC policies which stop survivors accessing counselling that could save their lives.

Women and survivors pledged to demonstrate against Nick Smith's ACC policies on Monday 30th November. He will be urged to abandon ACC's new “clinical pathway” for sexual abuse counselling. The protest will be led by the End Rape Culture Now! Collective (ERCNC), Auckland branch.

Until 27 October 2009, ACC was the main counselling funder for survivors of sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape. ACC Minister Nick Smith said in Parliament that survivors' needs would be paramount to the ACC’s Sensitive Claims Unit new “clinical pathway”. However since October 27th, many survivors have been notified that their counselling applications have been declined.

"We have also seen information from the Roundtable on Violence Against Women (RVAW) and are absolutely shocked that ACC would blatantly undermine justice by refusing counselling." said ERCNC media spokesperson Eliana Darroch.

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The RVAW letter mentions that since October 27th, sexual violence agencies and providers Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care, New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists, New Zealand Association of Counsellors and Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers have been hearing horrific examples which highlight dangers for survivors.
These include:
1. A woman raped on a psychiatric ward – ACC refused her counselling because she was considered mentally unwell at the time of the rape
2. A child sexually abused by an older child ¬– ACC refused counselling calling the abuse “sexualized play, and unlikely to have been traumatic”
3. A woman in Rotorua being told to go to Tauranga for counselling, as there were no ACC registered counsellors locally.
4. Counsellors now report dramatic reductions in the numbers of survivors obtaining counselling for sexual violence.

"We support the RVAW in encouraging the public to write letters to MPs; we also feel a need to take another step with urgent action protesting Nick Smith's policies directly, because therapy does save lives." ERCNC spokesperson Eliana Darroch said. "Nick Smith says the policy will be reviewed in six months, but survivors do not have six months."

"Counselling is often the only way survivors can face the trauma of asking for justice. By making counselling impossible, the National Party, Nick Smith and ACC are sending a message that survivors will have no support, and thus perpetrators will have one more wall of protection against justice. And that's completely unethical."

ERCNC also recently organised nationwide protests in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and a hunger strike in Auckland, as well as Take Back the Night marches in Auckland and Wellington against rape and sexual violence.


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