News Culture Comment Video

ACC overhauls sexual assault victims' counselling

Tuesday 29th April 2014

Trigger warning for sexual assault.

ACC will pay for every cent of rape victims’ counselling as part of a major overhaul of its sensitive claims system later this year, the New Zealand Herald reports.

It says the corporation is bracing for a significant increase in the number of sensitive claims in the next six years as the stigma around sexual violence is increasingly broken down in New Zealand.

The Herald quotes ACC strategy manager for sexual violence Emma Powell as saying the overhaul would give victims more time, funding and choice.

“We are no longer going to be approving 10 counselling sessions here, or 10 there; we are actually saying ‘Here’s 12 months, you and your therapists ... build a programme around the person’s needs’ ... and that’s about providing a much more holistic approach.”

The Corporation has previously been criticised for its handling of sensitive claims, including in a 2010 report by Dr Barbara Disley, and being told two years ago it needs to move faster to assure survivors get help.

The Herald reports that ACC received 5055 new sensitive claims last year, and is expecting a 10 per cent increase in claims each year until 2020.

It says sexual violence services are under scrutiny in New Zealand following the so-called “Roast Busters” case and temporary closure of some frontline clinics because of funding shortfalls.

Parliament has been looking at the funding of specialist sexual violence services, after the Green Party MP Jan Logie forced a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.

Christchurch-based sexual violence agency manager Maggie Tai Rakena from START told that inquiry the Government’s funding model has left many agencies seriously under-resourced.

She said in some parts of the country children who have been raped have no recovery services on offer.

The changes to ACC’s services are due to go into effect later this year.

Cover illustration by Toby Morris.