21 July 2009

ACC – only 127 sexual abuse claims

Press release from Access Support Services
On Monday, TV 3’s 60 Minutes programme exposed 500 cases of alleged abuse, including sexual abuse, at children’s homes run by the former Department of Social Welfare. The lawyer representing these complainants said she felt it was just the tip of the iceberg. In the 2007/08 year ACC accepted 127 claims for personal injury caused by sexual abuse. In the same year the NZ Police received 3,700 sexual abuse complaints and Rape Crisis dealt with about ten times this number of enquiries.
So why are so few sexual abuse claims being lodged with ACC and how many of these types of claims should there be?
“That is a very difficult to determine but I would have it expected it to be at least ten times this amount” says Mr Wadsworth, Principal of Access Support Services. “What we do know is 127 sexual abuse claims in a year isn’t consistent with the number of victims other organisations deal with.”
Last month ACC revealed it would no longer fund the Auckland Sexual Abuse Help-Line. This month ACC released information to Access Support Services that its funding this year for injury prevention in relation to sexual abuse is forecasted to be a paltry $27,500.
“It appears the lack of adequate funding is effectively suppressing the number of injury claims ACC receives for sexual abuse” comments Mr Wadsworth. “In my opinion, ACC is failing to fulfil its statutory obligations and, by default, failing the most vulnerable in society.”
Access Support Services wants the Government and ACC to increase funding to front-line organisations such as help-lines and Rape Crisis. In addition to this, ACC should fund a nationwide awareness campaign along the lines of the recent “It’s Not OK” anti-violence campaign.
“It is time for ACC to step up to the plate and be counted,” says Mr Wadsworth. “ACC needs to show it has the same courage as the three victims showed by appearing on the 60 Minutes programme.”
Ref: Injury Statistics for Sensitive Claims
(Access Support Services is a private organisation providing advocacy services for ACC claimants.)

12 July 2009

Discrimination against Maori women

Press release from NCWNZ
More information about the ACC Sensitive Claims clinical pathway is coming to light, says the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ); this information suggests not only discrimination on the basis of gender, but also on race.
According to ACC, Maori are more likely to be a client for ACC subsidised counselling. Women over all make up 82% of the claimants; and while it is known that Maori women are heavily represented in this percentage, ACC is currently unable to confirm what the actual ethnicity breakdown is.
“The SC clinical pathway was implemented in advance of ACC establishing what, or which kaupapa Maori treatment plans will be utilised,” said Elizabeth Bang, NCW National President. “Best practise would have set Maori women’s treatment needs as the first priority, given they are the majority population at risk.”
Hui that have been promised by ACC and the Minister of ACC to resolve this highly significant problem have been cancelled. It is not clear whether future Hui will include Maori providers and their representatives working at the coal-face, being invited to the consultation table.
“Some Maori counsellors are feeling particularly frustrated, as they have young Maori women arriving at their doors, wanting to access ACC subsidised counselling; but no guarantees can be made to these young women that the counsellor sitting opposite them will be on the ACC recommended treatment providers list,” says Elizabeth Bang. “These women are leaving in tears. The Maori providers have tried to open the lines of communication with both the Minister’s office and ACC, but no progress eventuates.”
The SC clinical pathway breaches the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:
Article 1 of the Convention defines "racial discrimination" as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
Whether a particular action or policy discriminates is judged by its effects.
In seeking to determine whether an action has an effect contrary to the Convention, it will look to see whether that action has an unjustifiable disparate impact upon a group distinguished by race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.
“Since Maori women are more likely to be affected by the changes to ACC, why are they the last to be consulted” questions Elizabeth Bang.
Information received from ACC suggests that they have now identified areas of importance where ACC will further develop advice or parts of the pathway. These include assessment of children and adolescents, counselling using kaupapa Maori models, clients in prison, clients who have alcohol and other drug dependencies, clients with intellectual disability.
“This ship is already sailing and we have no idea have ACC is currently processing claims from Maori women. Are they being held on to till ACC makes a decision on kaupapa Maori models, and when exactly will that be happening?” concluded Elizabeth Bang.

11 July 2009

Revving it up for sensitive claims

Press release from NCWNZ
The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) is heartened by the support being offered by some members of the motorcycling community who are likewise opposed to the insensitive changes to the ACC clinical pathway for female and male victims of sex crimes.
“We have been receiving feedback from supporters, such as ‘most decent human beings cringe at this and fully support your cause’ and, ‘any cost savings should not target these vulnerable victims, levies on sex offenders would be far preferable’. This demonstrates to us that this issue is by no means bound by one sector,” says Elizabeth Bang, NCWNZ National President, “rather, it grates at the core for a diverse range of people.”
The National Council of Women is also listening to the position taken by the motorcyclists.
“It is pretty clear cut to us that Government cannot impose increased levies and take away the rights of the motorcycling community,” says Elizabeth Bang. “The moves against them are discriminatory and by all accounts not justified statistically.”
The Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Bill, which is currently before the Select committee, if signed off on, will unfairly exploit the community.
NCWNZ believes that the changes to ACC are in conflict with the governments obligations under CEDAW (Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). Women who are seeking ACC subsidised counselling for experiencing trauma as a result of a sex crime are being discriminated against through policy that removes access to appropriate assessment and treatment.
“When considering the IPRC Amendment Bill, the scenario is one of ‘damned if you do’ and even ‘more damned if you don’t’,” says Elizabeth Bang. “The proposed increases in levies for employers, employees and car owners will be significantly and substantially increased if this legislation does not get accepted by Parliament.”
NCWNZ believes that the community is increasingly concerned that the political agenda is manoeuvring ACC to become a more saleable commodity. For the last 23 years, NCWNZ has been in opposition to the privatisation of publicly-owned assets; to date this has included the postal system, the roading system, energy and water systems.
“Groups such as the motorcyclists, the National Foundation for the Deaf, the Mental Health Foundation, NZ Association of Counsellors, ACC Coalition and many others are all voicing their concerns. But through this diversity of interests, all share one mutual concern, ACC,” concluded Elizabeth Bang.