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.© 2016 NZME Publishing Ltd
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.