Client-focused changes to ACC's services around sexual violence have been a long time coming, Palmerston North counsellors say.© 2015 Fairfax New Zealand Limited
ACC officially launched the new Integrated Services for Sensitive Claims scheme on Monday. The new service puts greater focus on maintaining wellbeing and increasing the provision of support, including increased hours for support.
Palmerston North counsellor Paulette Berryman, who is also on the Sensitive Claims Advisory Group for ACC, said the new system was very different from what was brought in in 2009. A part of the advisory group for about 15 years, she had seen a lot of changes.
Berryman said the system enlisted in 2009 was really awful for clients, as many were unable to get counselling services.
"When survivors have already been rendered powerless, they don't want to engage in a more powerless system."
It was found ACC was turning about 90 per cent of claims away. In 2009 there were 282 claims while in the 2013/2014 financial year there were 369 in the Manawatu-Whanganui area.
"The biggest change I see is that there is a client-centred approach," Berryman said.
Clients will also no longer have to pay surcharges for the services of counsellors.
ACC expected an increase in the number of cases coming in, because of the change to the client-focused system.
Manawatu Women's Refuge manager Dr Ang Jury said it was a long time coming. A more sensitive approach to the realities of what victims went through was needed. Flexibility in treatment, allowing victims to enter, leave and return to assistance was important.
Jury said the change made sense, as some people may not want to deal with issues immediately, or they may feel they had already dealt with their problems.
"A little bit down the track, they might realise they need support," Jury said.
"People are individuals ... They need to be treated on a one-on-one, individualised basis, taken seriously for what's happening to them."
Ann Kent, manager of Abuse and Rape Crisis Support Manawatu, said the new system was promising.
"It's a new system to us and everybody is still learning ... They [ACC] seem to have looked at what hasn't been working.
"[They] have put in a concerted effort to put in place a system that will be positive," she said.