20 August 2014

ACC initiative targets sexual violence

An article from the Papakura Courier by Tao Lin
They are talking sex and violence at Papakura High - and how the two don't mix.
The school is the first in South Auckland to trial Mates & Dates, a new ACC initiative that aims to help prevent sex and dating violence by teaching teenagers healthy relationship skills and behaviour. It's being piloted during term three across seven classes and organisers say it's getting good results.
ACC statistics shows the 15 to 24 age group is the most at risk from violence by current and ex-partners. One in five female and one in 10 male secondary school students report unwanted sexual contact or being made to do unwanted sexual things. Around 37 per cent describe the unwanted activity as severe and 57 per cent tell no-one.
Korowai Tumanako, a Maori service designed to support those affected by sexual violence, facilitates Mates & Dates at Papakura High. Its director Russell Smith says the response from students has been great and many of those who were disengaged at first were taking notes by the second or third sessions. The programme teaches about healthy relationships, consent and how to stay safe.
"The hope is to normalise discussions," Smith says.
Fellow director Joy Te Wiata says students are encouraged to apply the lessons to all areas of their lives and recognise how to help others in danger.
"It's quite a courageous programme in that we are making discussions about sexual violence overt," she says.
"They're simple, key messages."
School guidance counsellor Avril Michaels says she's also pleased with "how positively the staff of the classes have embraced the programme".
ACC sexual violence prevention programme manager Sandra Dickson says it applies to all kinds of relationships and extends the organisation's role in helping people deal with experiences of sexual violence. It already plays a key role supporting people dealing with the effects of sexual abuse or assault, she says.
"We now want to play a greater role in helping to prevent sexual and dating violence and the harms they cause."
The programme is relevant to all students, whether they're in a relationship or not, she says.
"It covers all kinds of relationships such as friendships and those with family. The programme will help students think about relationships they already have, as well as dating in the future.
"It's a challenging time for teenagers to be growing into adulthood. We hope Mates & Dates will give them the skills and tools they need to both make that transition safely and carry with them throughout their lives."
ACC minister Judith Collins was at the school last week to catch up on the programme's progress. She describes it as "a fantastic step to prevention" and says she supports challenging current mentalities around sexual violence.
Papakura High is one of nine schools around the country trialing the new programme.
If you or someone you know needs information or help after a sexual assault or abuse, contact ACC's sensitive claims unit confidentially on 0800 735 566. See toah-nnest.org.nz for information on where to seek help if you have experienced sexual violence or become concerned about harmful sexual behaviour towards others.
© 2014 Fairfax New Zealand Ltd


15 August 2014

Time Key took responsibility for Collins

A press release from the New Zealand Labour Party by Grant Robertson
It is well past time for John Key to take some responsibility for the misuse of power and information by his Minister Judith Collins, and follow through on his last warning to her, Labour MP Grant Robertson says.
“The evidence released this week shows John Key’s staff and Ministers are directly involved in the kind of negative politics and smears that put ordinary New Zealanders off engaging in the political process. It is time for the Prime Minister to show some leadership and take responsibility for these actions.
“Nicky Hager’s book includes new examples of the way in which Judith Collins has misused information that she only had access to because she is a Minister. New Zealanders have a right to expect better of the Ministers who act on their behalf.
“Two examples stand out, which John Key needs to hold Judith Collins to account for. First, she was involved in a campaign to smear a staff member in the Ministerial Services team as part of a distraction from issues being raised about Bill English claiming housing allowances in 2009.
“Despite there being no evidence to suggest this staff member had done anything wrong, he was attacked in several blogs by Cameron Slater. The book released this week reveals that Judith Collins sent information about this person’s name and job to Cameron Slater as he prepared these attacks.
“This is an appalling example of a Minister misusing her power to attack an innocent public servant. By his inaction John Key is telling New Zealanders that this is acceptable behaviour.
“The book also contains emails from Cameron Slater that report conversations with Judith Collins about the unauthorised release of ACC information that went to Bronwyn Pullar. The emails record that Slater had talked to the Minister about the case and that he received information about what Bronwyn Pullar was doing that could only have come from Judith Collins.
“As Minister for ACC that would be a gross breach of the confidentiality expected when dealing with ACC. John Key needs to investigate this to show once and for all where the leak of this sensitive information came from.
“The evidence presented this week shows that Judith Collins sent many messages and emails and made many phone calls to Cameron Slater that smear and denigrate political opponents and even innocent public servants.
“That is not what New Zealanders are paying her a Ministerial salary for. John Key needs to stop being so relaxed about serious issues. He needs to take some responsibility for her actions and follow through on the many warnings he has given Judith Collins,” Grant Robertson said.
© 2014 Scoop Media


13 August 2014

National must stop meddling with ACC before the election

A press release from the Green Party by Kevin Hague
The redesign currently occurring at the Accident Claims Corporation (ACC) for sensitive claims needs to be put on hold immediately, said the Green Party today.
The Green Party is concerned about work currently underway at ACC involving the sensitive claims service that could impact on the availability of clinical psychology treatment for victims of rape and sexual abuse as well as their privacy. The Green Party believes that ACC is instituting a new level of bureaucracy in order to farm out sensitive claims to private providers.
“Instituting major structural change into the way ACC delivers services to New Zealanders a few weeks out from a general election is unacceptable,” Green Party ACC spokesperson Kevin Hague said today.
“The new corporate insurance model that ACC is moving towards creates a new layer of bureaucracy that may enable companies to set up and profit from procuring the services of specialised psychologists.
“Private companies should not be able to turn a profit from the money intended to support the victims of sexual violence and abuse.
“ACC’s new model involves the creation of new, non-specialist ‘supplier’ entities who will tender for the provision of services with pre-existing treatment providers.
“Moving towards this model could result in non-specialised third parties handling extremely confidential information which is currently only held by the Sensitive Claims unit and select providers,” Mr Hague said.
“The supplier organisations do not need to be specialists in sexual violence services, but are entirely new organisations set up for nationwide competitive tendering. It is not clear that in the event of a breach of privacy or process who would be held to account.
“The sensitive claims redesign could result in a decline in the specialist workforce and undermine the provision of wrap around services.
“Any psychologists not signed up with a supplier or themselves becoming a supplier will be unable to provide ACC funded specialist claims services.
“The Government has missed the opportunity to redesign the sensitive claims pathway and fully implement the Disley report recommendations.”
The Disley report, released in 2012, suggested a wide range recommendations including improving communications with clients, refining ACC’s systems and processes, ensuring treatment and assessment is carried out by a well-qualified, fit-for-purpose workforce.
“National is choosing to push through major changes without properly consulting clients, advocates, psychologists or the public,” Mr Hague said.
“The new direction National is taking ACC lacks proper checks and balances.
“The Green Party will stop this attempt at privatisation of ACC by stealth.
"The Green Party has previously laid out a ten point plan for rehabilitating ACC and bring it back to the core principles it was founded on.”
Link to Green Party ACC plan: https://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/acc-rehabilitation-plan-announced
© 2014 Scoop Media


31 July 2014

ACC cover to extend to child victims of sexual grooming

A press release from the New Zealand Government
ACC Minister Judith Collins today announced an addition to the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill that would extend ACC sensitive claims cover to children or young people who are victims of sexual grooming or indecent communications.
“There is a gap in the current ACC law that needs addressing to establish cover for victims of these types of child sexual exploitation,” Ms Collins says.
“Our Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill targets criminals who prey on children, either by feeding the supply or fuelling the demand for the insidious underground child sexual abuse market.
“This proposal will ensure ACC cover is provided for mental injury caused by the Bill’s new offence of indecent communication with a young person, as well as cover for the existing offence of sexual grooming.”
Ms Collins says the proposal supports ACC’s new strategy for action on sexual violence that focuses on prevention, first response and quality services to help victims of sexual violence.
Just recently ACC announced its Mates & Dates pilot that aims to prevent sexual and dating violence by helping young people to understand the value of healthy relationships based on respect, negotiation and consent.
A further addition to the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill will ensure that any person convicted of indecently communicating with a young person is restricted from working in core children’s workforce roles. The Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill is currently awaiting its second reading in Parliament.
© 2014 Scoop Media


22 July 2014

Teaching teens about right sort of love

An article from the Wanganui Chronicle by Lydia Anderson
Teenagers often look for love in all the wrong places, so a programme teaching them about healthy relationships has got to be good, a Wanganui counsellor says. ACC's new pilot, Mates & Dates, will teach secondary school students healthy relationship skills, as part of a three-year programme aimed at preventing sexual and dating violence.
And the West Auckland Roastbusters scandal, which involved teenage boys boasting online about having group sex with drunk, underage girls, had an effect on the programme being formulated "at pace". Wanganui counsellor Neil Pedley said if teenagers were not getting their emotional needs met at home they often turned to drastic measures, such as having inappropriate sexual encounters.
"You wouldn't believe what's out there in the way of incidents that occur among young people, it still amazes me.
"The common factor is they're looking for love in all the wrong places."
The programme could be beneficial if it created awareness that it was OK to have needs as long as teenagers tried to meet them in a healthy way, he said.
ACC sexual violence prevention programme manager Sandra Dickson said although the Roastbusters scandal was not the reason Mates & Dates was developed, it did prompt the organisation to "move at pace" and prioritise a school-based programme.
"We were already aware of the lack of a best practice, multi-year, nationally available school-based programme to help to prevent sexual and dating violence," she said.
"Roastbusters and other recent high profile incidents reinforced the urgent need for that gap to be filled."
Students involved in the pilot programme would be taught how to have relationships based on respect, negotiation and consent. It would also help them to identify inappropriate behaviour and show them how to get help.
Secondary Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said there was no "one size fits all" programme to suit all schools. However, if the programme was shown to work it could be worth rolling out nationally with adjustments made to suit each school's unique environment.
ACC Minister Judith Collins said the Mates & Dates pilot supported the Government's efforts to drive lasting change in young people's behaviours and attitudes by focusing on prevention.
"In 2012-13, ACC funded about $44 million for sensitive claims, all of which relate to sexual violence," she said.
Mates & Dates is based on research here and overseas that shows 15- to 24-year-olds are most at risk from violence by current and ex-partners. One in five female and one in 10 male secondary school students report unwanted sexual contact and, of these, 37 per cent describe the unwanted activity as severe, and 57 per cent tell no one. The nine secondary schools involving 2000 students in the pilot study are: Dargaville High School, Kelston Girls' College, Kelston Boys' High School, Papakura High School, Makoura College, Naenae College, Nelson College, Nelson College for Girls and Otago Boys' High School.
© 2014 APN New Zealand Limited