Light at the end of the tunnel?

ACC Media Release
Wednesday 11th August 2010

Extra support for sexual abuse survivors

Extra support is being made available to survivors of sexual abuse, ACC announced today.

From Monday 16 August, people with a new ACC sensitive claim, or with a new claim already in the system but awaiting a decision, will be able to access up to 16 hours with a counsellor, to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

“ACC has listened to concerns expressed by several groups that more support is needed. Those groups included the public, the sexual abuse treatment sector, and the independent panel appointed by the Minister to review the sensitive claims pathway,” said Denise Cosgrove, General Manager Claims Management.

It is envisaged that these support sessions will, in fact, be sufficient to meet the needs of many people, who will therefore not go on to require ACC cover or ACC-funded treatment.

However, for others who do demonstrate signs of a possible mental injury arising from sexual abuse (as specified in ACC legislation) the sessions will also be used to gather information to help ACC make a cover decision.

While these changes do not alter the process of deciding who qualifies for ACC cover, or how they will subsequently be helped, the changes do ensure everyone has support while their status and needs are assessed.

A number of details are yet to be finalised, such as what support will be available for people who have suffered a relapse, or whose sensitive claims have previously been declined or reactivated. Likewise, what special arrangements might be put in place for children and others with particular needs. ACC will be working with the sexual abuse sector on these questions over the coming weeks.

These changes have been discussed with the Minister’s independent panel, who felt they were a step in the right direction.

ACC will be contacting affected clients and the professional bodies involved in this area to ensure they know how to activate these support sessions.

Late last year ACC made changes to the sensitive claims process, to ensure that only those people covered by its legislation receive funding, and to improve results for people who are covered.

“We still believe these are reasonable goals but acknowledge that the introduction of the pathway exposed gaps in the services available to people who have suffered sexual abuse,” said Denise Cosgrove.

“We will be continuing to develop the sensitive claims process, and will take into account the views of the sector, the final report of the independent panel and the cross-government work being carried out following the recent findings of the Taskforce on Sexual Violence.”

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