30 May 2016

Protesters demand changes to way sexual attack survivors dealt with by ACC

An article from the New Zealand Herald
A "small but committed" group of protesters gathered outside ACC's Auckland office this afternoon calling for sexual attack survivors to qualify for ongoing taxpayer-funded counselling without a mental health illness diagnosis. Green Party MP Jan Logie led the demonstration with support from victim advocate, Louise Nicholas.
Up to 14 hours of one-on-one therapy is currently available when someone lodges a sensitive claim with ACC, along with up to 10 hours of social work support. Up to 20 hours of whanau support is also available immediately.
After these are used, ACC decides whether to approve cover for further support, should the person need it. That included victims needing to be diagnosed with a mental health injury relating to the abuse.
"Some survivors feel having to have a diagnosis puts judgment on them," Ms Logie said. "It takes them back to the the feeling that there's something wrong with them; that they're at fault.
"In other cases, survivors who need support are turned down because they don't have a diagnosis, or some don't apply for support because they think they'll be turned down."
She said a small but committed group of about 20 protesters gathered outside ACC's Auckland office at 12pm today.
"What we're asking for is incredibly simple. A counsellor can assess a survivor and whether they need help without them needing a mental health diagnosis."
The Green Party has also begun a petition which will be presented to ACC Minister Nikki Kaye.
Ms Kaye has said she believes the system is supportive of survivors but she will meet with providers to discuss possible changes to the scheme. That would include looking at different ways to assess mental harm to victims.
Ms Kaye said a "mental injury diagnosis" could be provided by any ACC registered and appropriately qualified assessor, which in many cases is the client's counsellor.
Changes were made in 2009 to the way support was accessed through ACC by sexual violence survivors, bringing in the requirement for a mental injury diagnosis in order to access help. After a 2010 review of the scheme and consultation with those working in the sector, further changes were made so survivors could have immediate access to support.
© 2016 NZME Publishing Ltd


ACC Minister must help sexual violence survivors

A press release from the Green Party by Jan Logie
The Green Party is calling on ACC Minister Nikki Kaye to remove the obligation for sexual violence survivors to be diagnosed with a mental illness before being allowed additional ACC-funded counselling.
Green Party MP Jan Logie and survivor advocate Louise Nicholas today launched a new campaign and petition to demand that survivors don’t need a mental illness diagnosis in order to have their sensitive claims proceed.
“Being the victim of sexual violence is not a mental illness,” Ms Logie said.
“Being subjected to sexual violence is trauma enough. Being a victim of sexual violence on its own should qualify survivors for the help they need.
“It’s great to hear the Minister Nikki Kaye say she’s open to a better way of helping the survivors of sexual violence. Removing the obligation for them to be diagnosed with a mental illness is an appropriate start.”
The petition is available here: http://action.greens.org.nz/remove_the_barriers
Under current ACC practice, in order for survivors of sexual violence to have their ACC sensitive claim approved, they must be diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. Up to 16 hours of one-on-one therapy is initially available when someone lodges a sensitive claim with ACC, however accessing help after that requires a diagnosis.
“In many cases this labelling of sexual violence survivors can be re-traumatising and stigmatising, and is a significant deterrent for those who need treatment.
“ACC needs to change its processes so that people are able to access the help that they need,” Ms Logie said.

More information is available here http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qwa/QWA_03866_2016/3866-2016-jan-logie-to-the-minister-for-acc
© 2016 The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand


01 April 2016

Sexual violence services – the real story

A blog post by Jan Logie
What has really led to the Government’s changing stance on funding for sexual violence services?
People have been congratulating me on this news yesterday and I have to admit working with the sector through this process has given meaning to my time in Parliament and I am proud of the work we have done on this.  I am a bit embarrassed by the congratulations in the context of the thousands of submissions and years and years of work by incredible advocates which really got the result.
While I’ll need to see the dollars in the budget, and hear that the Government is working closely with the specialist providers, especially Nga Kaitiaki Mauri, to design the new model before I relax, I do want to reflect on the journey to this point.
The 70s and 80s saw women coming together to voluntarily support women who had experienced sexual violence. The Government provided some funding from the mid 80s. There was a period of new general services, the Pacific Island Women’s Project, and kaupapa Maori services being set up to respond to the growing need. These groups were advocating for the prevention of sexual violence – law reform and social change as well as supporting victim/survivors. It wasn’t until the mid 90s that we had the first ethnic women’s organisation, Shakti and in the late 90s the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust set up. There are still obvious gaps.
ACC alongside MSD were the major funders for sexual violence support services. The services were always under-valued and certainly not recognised for the amazing life-saving and at times world leading responses to sexual violence that they were and are. Sexual violence has been one of those very difficult topics to talk about in any context so that always made the services a bit of an easy target for funding cuts.
Despite Maori women being more likely to experience sexual violence in New Zealand and kaupapa Maori approaches being far more successful we have lost almost all of our specialist kaupapa Maori sexual violence services. There was a time when there were over twenty services but now there are fewer than five.
The Taskforce for Action was initiated by Labour in the wake of public horror about Louise Nicholas’s experiences. Louise did not have access to the right help, from our justice system or social services, when she needed it and that is one of the reasons she has been so actively advocating for increased funding for years.
The Taskforce for Action came out in 2009 calling for a national prevention plan and proper resourcing of the sexual violence sectors, basically all the same things that the select committee has recommended again 6 years later.
Maori and non-Maori specialists gave hundreds of hours of their time, voluntarily, in the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence. They spent hours and hours strategizing and organising and lobbying to try and ensure that victim/survivors had access to the services they needed. If this had been implemented there would have been no need for the select committee inquiry.
But even while the National party Minister for Justice called the Taskforce for Action the best road map the country had ever had for addressing sexual violence, the Government was in the process of gutting ACC support for victim/survivors. The Government told ACC that they had to make savings. In 2009 they saved $3.2billion dollars by going after, amongst other things, the “low hanging fruit” of sensitive claims. These changes resulted in a 36% decline the number of claims being lodged and even more shockingly the number of accepted claims going from 60% to 3.6% in just two years. Specialist agencies stopped using ACC because they thought it was unsafe for survivors and the number of ACC counsellors halved. During the inquiry into sexual violence funding we heard from a man whose partner had killed herself because she couldn’t get the support she needed over this time.
Many therapists and counsellors and volunteers just kept going, under increasing strain themselves, because they knew that people were depending on them. This was a truly awful time in New Zealand’s history.
Public concern over these changes forced Minister Nick Smith to initiate a review in 2010.The Disley report in 2010 made fourteen recommendations to fix the mess. Considerable effort has been made since then by ACC, the community and others to try and restore ACC. In the select committee report much has been made of the improvements to ACC. A new model is in place and it is much better but we are still not there yet.
Ahead of the budget and future work, I just want to celebrate the bloody minded tenacity of survivors and advocates who have kept going through this very dismal time. I genuinely and wholeheartedly hope the Government doesn’t let us all down again.
© 1996-2015 The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand


10 March 2016

Sexual abuse drives hundreds of kids to ACC

An article from Newshub by Emily Cooper
Families are being told to ask more questions of their children following the release of disturbing new statistics. Newshub can reveal that in the last 12 months, the number of children under the age of 15 seeking ACC services for sexual abuse has reached more than 800.
Maggy Tai Rakena of sexual violence support group START says kids need to be questioned.
"We don't want to jump to conclusions when there's distress showing, because it could just be that the cat died, or grandma's sick or something," says Ms Rakena.
"But it's a prompt to ask more. Children do talk about this stuff."
Ms Rakena says 90 percent of offenders are known to the victim.
"Their loyalties are torn; there can be some nice sides about the relationship, but also if it's your mum or your grandma or your dad or your uncle, and people that your parents love and trust, it's really hard to speak up," she told Newshub.
"The story about 'stranger danger' and the one odd person that drags a kid away from the school gate is so rare, so unusual."
Seventy-two kids under four had sensitive claims through ACC.
Copyright © 2016 MediaWorks TV


03 March 2016

ACC sex abuse claims double in five years

An article from Newshub by Emily Cooper
More sexual abuse and sexual assault victims are reaching out for help under ACC's sensitive claims services.
Figures released to Newshub under the Official Information Act show claims have nearly doubled in the past six years. In 2010, 3674 people lodged a claim compared to 6946 people last year. Those seeking counselling services have also almost doubled.
ACC Minister Nikki Kaye says it's down to changes made around the handling of sensitive claims. "Previously it was hard, it was quite an insensitive process," she says.
Victim advocate Louise Nicholas says the rise is also likely down to more people speaking out against sexual violence and the stigma around people speaking out being lifted.
Over the past three years, ACC has had to re-think the sensitive claims process and worked with survivors of abuse, advocates and therapists to make the process easier. ACC also scrapped the top up fee that victims previously had to pay for counselling services and a new support package was also announced this time last year.
Ms Kaye says $100 million will be spent over the next six years to give people better access to counsellors.

Copyright © 2016 MediaWorks TV