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ACC cuts funding for sexual abuse counseling

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From October 27 ACC is changing its criteria for covering the cost of counseling for survivors of sexual abuse. Under the new criteria, survivors will only be eligible for ACC covered counseling if they have been diagnosed as having a mental injury, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV.

According to Dr Peter Jansen, ACC clinical director in charge of the proposed changes, “ACC's legislative role is clearly defined. We are only able to assist those who have a diagnosed significant mental injury resulting from the abuse/assault they've suffered,” and the rule change is aimed at bringing ACC practice in line with legislation.

But Dr Kim McGregor, who chairs the tauiwi (Pakeha) section of the National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together, has said that “some counsellors are ethically opposed to using a psychiatric diagnosis for sexual violence.”

Making survivors jump through bureaucratic hoops to get the support they need contributes to the trauma of sexual abuse by further disempowering people who've already been through a traumatic and disempowering experience.

“If my counsellor had told me I needed to see ACC's shrink three times and be diagnosed with a mental condition before I could go to counselling, I would never have gone back,” said one survivor of childhood sexual abuse quoted by the NZ Herald.

There is also concern about the impact that being diagnosed with a mental illness has on people's lives. According to Dr McGregor, “If you have a DSM-IV diagnosis, for example for depression, and you go for a mortgage, and they say, 'Have you ever had a mental illness?' you have to declare that. If you go for a job interview and you're asked, you have to disclose that.”

Louise Nicholas, an advocate for survivors, points out, “Rape and sexual abuse is a crime that is committed upon a person by another person deliberately causing harm. It is not like a self-inflicted recreational or sporting injury”.

This change is clearly a cost cutting measure, the latest in a long list of cuts to public services and attacks on workers' rights. There has been an increase in the number of ACC claims for sexual abuse counseling from 520 a month last year to 650-700 a month since March. It seems that ACC is making it harder for people to access funding for counseling precisely because more people are accessing a public service to which they are entitled.

Another concern is that this change is a move towards cutting all ACC funding for sexual abuse counseling. Dr McGregor has said the new procedure would allow ACC to check with survivors' doctors and employers to assess whether their mental condition could be traced directly to the abuse.

"They will be very likely to find some pre-existing condition or other contributing factors such as stress at work, not getting on with a partner or depression, and will therefore conclude that there is not a clear clinical link between the rape and the mental injury," she said.

Dr Jansen's comment in the media that ACC, “do not cover an event. We provide cover for an injury” also raises concerns. If ACC views rape and sexual abuse as a 'significant life event' rather than an injury, this could be used as a justification for cutting ACC funding for counseling for all survivors.

People around Aotearoa are mobilising against the funding cuts.

There's an information blog at http://notoacc.blogspot.com and a petition you can sign here: http://www.petitiononline.com/ACC0909/petition.html

There is also a facebook group you can join: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=175690473985

In Auckland, there is an organising meeting on Wednesday October 7, at 6:30pm in the womens' space at Auckland University.

In Wellington, there is a march to ACC's headquarters on Monday October 19. Meet at the Cenotaph at 12:30.

There is also a day of decentralised actions such as leafletting and banner drops on Monday October 12.

Banner painting and leaflet distribution is happening Thursday October 8, from 1 to 4pm at 128 Abel Smith St. There is a meeting to organise the decentralised day of action on Sunday October 11, at 11:45am at 128 Abel Smith St, and another meeting to organise the march on Monday October 12, at 6:30pm, also at 128 Abel Smith St.



Comments

Sexual abuse and its abuse by false allegation

The question that seems to be perpetually missing from such matters where the fundamental conflict is relative to gender is how is the abuse of the condition or circumstance by the gender of the victim being considered?

 

This situation is paralleled at the moment where the criminal justice system is reviewing a defence of provocation. The question here is the effect of the inquisitorial system against that which exists of arbitration if in fact access to justice is a provision that goes across the board embracing both alleged offender as against victim.    

 

http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/ntn/2009/10/06/reform_of_the_cri...  

 

The emphasis of protest then should not just accommodate the view and perception of one group to demand that group’s condition must be protected as paramount, but should more valuably be stressed to recognise the vulnerability of the condition or circumstance. If this is practice within well demanded lobby groups then the nub of the problem is already well prepared in the face of remedy in a naturally as significantly under resourced human dilemma/catastrophe

The actions being organised

The actions being organised are primarily about putting survivors of sexual abuse first.

From time to time no doubt people have made false accusations, but overall this is hardly the case and generally becomes apparent. In fact, there is already provision within current ACC policy to try to determine this.

The reality is, sexaul abuse is a traumatising experience and effects survivors in a multitude of ways, which may not be apparent initially, or for years. The impact on survivors can grow or change over time.

Suggesting at the outset of contact with someone who has been abused that they may be lying is to re-traumatise them and exasperate an already stressful and traumatic situation, they may then go on to recieve no help, and their condition is very likely to worsen because of this even if they do recieve help. Suggesting that they may have provoked the situation is even worse, its 'blaming the victim'. 

If this is about accomodating the veiw of one group of people I dont see why it should not be. We are talking about supporting survivors of sexual abuse. Unfortunately this is not 'one group of people', this is an ever expanding mass of mothers, sisters, daughters, lovers, friends, brothers, fathers, sons, and their supporters. The statistics on sexaul assault in every country on earth are horrific. Even the police in Aotearoa concede that in their estimate less than 30% of these offences are reported. There are reasons for this too, but thats a whole other pandoras box.

I wholeheartedly support this action. Not just as a supporter and a survivor but because I believe its the right thing to do.

Pandora's Box

Thank you Rozie for your considered reply,

 

It is not my intention to engage in direct debate seeking justification of the condition or the circumstance in itself. However, the component you refer to as a Pandora’s Box as relative to unreported abuse inside cannot remain closed where the component about which I complain is most certainly identifiable within this region. This is because there is no effective common knowledge of what part of sexual contact is relative to abuse; which is to say that if we do not consider that men and women have thresholds of acceptability and can engage those thresholds within lawful ease then society is naturally defect in matters of sexual expression and with that condition arrive unprotected victims.

 

If mainstream society reacts to the condition of sexual abuse without engaging doubt or inquiry then the Pandora’s Box will protect abuse of the nature I complain: It will be less identifiable as any form of abuse but more identifiable as an acceptable loss. That condition is not empirical and owns an equitable status for a minority to be recognised. For example, you say you are a survivor. I reply I know of an allegation that in my view led to the emotional torture and very early death of a father. You may reply from your perspective that the allegation was fair and reasonable as it led to compensation for the abuse and I would reply that I was party to the exposure of a fundamental lie that effectively executed the ill health of the individual. This is to say that I know of a compensation package of $10,000 that would not stand up in court because of evidence that would never get to be tested.

 

That father is dead and other than my evidence there is nothing to protect his status in society where his status was destroyed.

 

So I repeat here I am not looking to challenge you or the circumstances on justification against sexual abuse but I am challenging the institution of administration on its inability to facilitate the opening of Pandora’s Box as you call it – where while it is closed it is well open to abuse.

 

From my view where I consider it unreasonable to engage a problem from a perspective of criticism without concrete structures to remedy from such extremely detrimental circumstances, I offer those solutions. The matters are simply resolvable by recognising the value and constitution of gender parenting. Presently in society the effects of parenting have become dramatically, desperately and dangerously lopsided.

 

For example, when busking politics last night a youth was particularly engaging on the topic: he commented on the number of teenagers he knew who were fatherless yet were diagnosed ADHD. He perceived and in my view with qualifiedly good reason that the problem of fatherless ness was generational affecting his generation.

 

So if we implement what is considered a remedy – which is cash - without spending reasonable time considering all facets of the cause then there will be victims who are not protected because of the imbalance left protected in the system.

      

I think 'the system' is

I think 'the system' is fundamentally flawed as far as dealing with any abuse or 'injustice' is concerned, given that 'the system' is abusive and based on injustice to maintain its own power and very existence. The 'pandoras box' i refer to encompasses the issues inherent in this massive problem.

Survivors of sexaul abuse face big problems in dealing with their situations regardless of whether they engage the system or not. There are no easy answers, but making it harder is not the answer.

Who wants to be re-victimised by the cops? No one i bet, but this is what tends to happen to varying degrees simply by engaging them in any legal process related to sexual abuse. Sometimes their involvement is forced on survivors of sexual abuse.

Forcing survivors of sexual abuse to possibly have to see three therapists, be diagnosed mentally ill, and have to wait up to 60 days before they recieve treatment, if any, is of a similar ilk, but these are some of the proposed changes to ACC policy.

I dont think there are no other issues that have to be resolved, but one does not trump the other. It seems like the issues you raise regarding a person you know of/have known are related problems that also need an answer, but in parellel, not instead.

We need more community based answers. And to try to minimise the damage the beaurecratic monsters of government can cause is the least we can do about this.

tautoko

There are estimated to be 600,000 survivors in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Up to 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 8 boys by the age of 16 are survivors of sexual crimes.

 

They and all other survivors should be entitled to process the effects of these crimes safely and to integrate these experiences and reclaim the psychological, physical and spiritual resources that were stolen from them.

 

This seems entirely reasonable to me given that when this occurs the surivivor is generally in a position to contribute even more than they already do to the GDP of the country - creatively, compassionately and finanancially.

 

arohanui ki a koutou,

 

Maria

Andrew Thomas Gibson

Get YOUR money from Andrew Thomas Gibson (Thomas Andrew Gibson), the baliff says watch out for the dogs and cameras! You will find Andrew Gibson (The Temperance Bar, Loaded Hog, Gibson Security) at 116 Liverton Road, Belmont, Lower Hutt. Failing that go find him at the NEW Loaded Hog in Lower Hutt where you will find him hiding with Stewart Thwaites (junior and senior), what a bunch of sad conmen

Christchurch Protest

There is also a Christchurch meeting planned for Monday 12th, 6.30pm at the WEA (Worker's Education Centre), 59 Gloucester Street. All welcome.

Jared

Kia kaha wahine toa!In

Kia kaha wahine toa!

In strength and solidarity.

stopcuts.blogspot.comAuckland

stopcuts.blogspot.com

Auckland blog, will have more info and updates soon.

hi ben,  an interesting post,

hi ben,  an interesting post, quite detached from the a huge point which rozie highlighted - we should be making access to healing/treatment for these types of things very easy and streamlined.

to add a criteria of being mentally ill into the process of being eligible for appropriate resources for healing/treatment, in my opinion demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the effects of sexual abuse and the likes of. as does adding more layers of beauracracy to the process.

hi rozie - in saying the above, i would like to point out that in my opinion - the system, which you described as fundamentally flawed (relative to this subject at least) is responsible for the existence of conditions that make sexual abuse even a possibility - and we collectively are responsible for the system- so imo are we really to expect an already flawed system to come up with somethin even remotely effective in healing/treating those who have been abused. while it still keeps happening everyday.

so unless we at least try to address the underlying reasons for the existence of sexual abuse we will forever be putting a band aid on a wound which keeps growing.

 counselling can absolutely be a great thing, as can just having people you trust to talk with, and ideally if we had real communities of people these things would stop occuring. 

      

The crutch

http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/ntn/2009/10/12/sexual_abuse_counselling_funding

http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/national/ntn/2009/10/13/acc_sex_abuse_counselling

That's Benjamin - Nick -

(no offence taken, but after a while it gets tiring being titled for a name that is different to mine).

In a discussion today I was easily able to concur with the arguments of someone inviting me to the protest (ACC) in Wellington next week, relative to the view of propping up a victim status, agreeing that education is fundamental, necessary and viable for those reasons.

My point is that while there is no education I cannot exempt the need for props, secured as relative to the greatest need - yet it is the props themselves that protect the viability of the injury. This is especially true where the return for the prop is cash. I will attend the protest if I can but with my present schedule it is pretty unlikely. I will publish my support, however. My position for these posts should be clear. We have to do something about the mess rather than relying on the abilities to comfort those who are invariably in need of emotional comfort.

I listened to the second of the posted links (not the first yet) and found myself replying loudly to the radio. If someone says I have had a mental injury then it would be discriminatory to say this is any different from a physical injury. If you want to remove discrimination then remove it. Stop looking for reasons to feel sorry for you. I have several mental injuries and I am extremely proud (not embarrassed) that I remain a fighter. I would be just as proud for the physical wound (not embarrassed) as long as I was a survivor.

Kind regards,

Benjamin Easton

LAOS New Zealand

Survivalof the fittest

Thats all it is now, survival of the fittest, I'm a survivor of sexual abuse and also a serious spinal injury, my life is over!

I am not fit enough to survive in this world any longer and if they remove my right to getting therapy then I am disempowered even further!

my life is oversimply because some man decided he wanted to have 'fun' with me when I was younger,

my life is over simply because I had an accident that resulted in a serious injury that limits my capability.

my life is over because ACC is NOT there to help the injured at all!  and now they want to make it even harder for survivors of sexual abuse to function in this country!

Survival of the fittest, we are moving towards a counrty where only the fittest will survive and the strong can cause even more weakness by abusing the weak,,,

ps, ACC abuses the weak!

 

yet they are still happy to

yet they are still happy to pay out billions of $$$ for sports injuries...because NZ is a perfect country where everyone plays rugby and sexual abuse and serious car accidents never happen..yeah right!

NZ Herald: More financial

NZ Herald: More financial support for crime victims.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10603565

Sexual violence victims will also be eligible for a grant of $250 for one-off expenses incurred as a result of the violence, such as to replace items of clothing. The scheme will be worth $500,000 a year.

The latest episode of Cartoon Brew

Attorney General Eric Holder sought support Wednesday for erasing the gap in prison sentences for crack and powder cocaine crimes, a disparity that hits black defendants the hardest. http://www.patel.net