27 September 2016

Making a difference in sexual violence prevention

A press release by ACC
A new web based tool has been developed to evaluate sexual violence prevention practice. Developed by ACC, the Making a Difference: Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Toolkit will enable providers of sexual violence prevention activities to measure increases in knowledge, shifts in attitudes and changes in behaviour.
ACC’s Injury Prevention Portfolio Manager – Violence, Mike McCarthy, says the new tool will help agencies focus on primary prevention which is evidence-based, promotes behaviour change and guides funding decisions towards best practise activities.
“Current evaluation of sexual violence prevention is inconsistent and limited to measuring how much participants enjoyed a programme rather than what they got out of it and whether it changed their attitudes and behaviour.”
The development of the Toolkit aligns with ACC’s role as coordinator of the Government‘s response to sexual violence primary prevention activity. It is also an integral part of ACC’s suite of injury prevention initiatives to reduce the incidence of injury and, in this case, harm from sexual violence.
“Our goal is to support children, aged 25 and under, to experience safe, healthy and respectful relationships. As part of our violence prevention initiatives, we want to improve the ability to evaluate sexual violence prevention activities in New Zealand.”
Mr McCarthy says, “If we can stop sexual violence happening in the first place, we won’t need to deal with the consequences of the serious harm sexual violence causes.”
Sexual violence is one of the most costly crimes to individuals and society, with Treasury estimating it costs the New Zealand economy $1.2 billion each year. In the 2015/16 financial year ACC paid over $83 million on over 20,000 sensitive claims, an increase of 31 percent on the previous year. The average cost of sensitive claims increased by 17 percent between 2015 and 2016.
The Toolkit will assist in ensuring sexual violence prevention activity is focused on behaviour change and that funding across government agencies, including ACC, can be targeted towards effective programmes.
The Toolkit will ensure greater consistency in the evaluation of projects across government and community agencies and provide invaluable insights into what works in sexual violence prevention, says Mike McCarthy.

18 September 2016

Sex abuse victim speaks out

An article from the Wairarapa Times-Age by Geoff Vause
A victim of convicted sex offender Raymond Buchanan, formerly of Masterton, has spoken out for the first time.
The man, now in his thirties and living in Australia, said he would only talk to the Wairarapa Times Age about the impact child rapist Buchanan had on his life, and his shocking neglect by various government agencies in New Zealand. A jury delivered a guilty verdict on all charges for the brutal abuse of two boys at Masterton from 1980 through to 1991 and in February Buchanan appeared before Judge Kit Toogood in Rotorua High Court and was jailed for 12 years.
The man and his brother, also a victim, were complimented by Judge Toogood for the “restrained and careful way” they gave evidence “without exaggeration”. The judge’s thanks was all they got.
Buchanan was ordered to pay $70,000 in reparation to each victim but has paid nothing so far as trustees control his funds. The victim now speaking out said he has somehow managed to remain relatively on track, “not messed up on drugs, staying out of jail” and overcoming the constant thoughts of taking his own life.
“I don’t have any self-confidence at all, I feel embarrassed and ashamed of what has happened,” he said.
He cannot be named, but said the trust controlling Buchanan’s money had refused to negotiate on coughing up a single dollar despite the judge’s order. He said he had been failed at the time not only by his mother but by school authorities and every government agency which could have helped.
His treatment by ACC and other agencies since the offending came to light had been more of the same.
“If somebody hurts themselves at work they go to ACC and get any assistance they need because they can’t work,” he said.
“Even Buchanan will get rehabilitation. He’ll get everything he needs.
“I pay for my own counselling at $187 each visit and I have not had any help. I haven’t been able to afford the last couple of visits and I feel completely ripped off.
“It feels like the criminal gets rehab and the victim gets life just trying to survive each day”.
The counselling was essential to having some semblance of a life. He said the counsellor was stunned he was still alive. His fear of touch, even a cuddle, made it almost impossible to have a relationship.
His cynical treatment at the hands of government agencies in this country was also disturbing.
“Being the main witness they paid for my flights back to New Zealand and a hotel room, but that was it.
“I was left to fund everything else including supporting myself while not working. I even had to refinance my bike to pay for living expenses in Australia.
“ACC said I had to come back to New Zealand and live for at least eight months before they will even look at giving me any help.
“New Zealand is the last place I want to be. I have no good feelings there. I left there so I didn’t do something that would have ended up with me in jail.
“I struggle every day to find some purpose. I’m a hard worker, but I struggle with the mood swings, so it’s hard to keep jobs.
“I just have to get away on my own. I’ve lived in the desert just with a swag for months at a time. I’ve had no help at all.”
When he tried to contact the agencies in New Zealand that could help, he was passed around from one to the other, or they didn’t get back to him.
“They get me to repeat my story, over and over again. It’s cost me heaps in calls, all for nothing. The system is just totally screwed,” he said.
“It’s not about the money. The whole system is backward.
“I’m the victim, left to fend for myself.”

Copyright 2016 Wairarapa Times Age

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