Urgent Action: Delay implementation of any changes to the ACC Sensitive Claims Scheme.

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    Hon. Nick Smith, Minister for ACC.
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Cc:Dr Jan White, Chief Executive Officer of ACC.
Cc:Dr Peter Jansen, Senior Clinical Advisor, ACC Clinical Directorate.

Urgent Action: Delay implementation of any changes to the Sensitive Claims Scheme.

We the undersigned wish to express our grave concerns about the proposed changes to the ACC Sensitive Claims clinical pathway, which currently provides funded counselling for victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault within Aotearoa New Zealand.

All professionals involved in the treatment of these clients in New Zealand agree: that these proposed changes are clinically unsound, and contrary to ACCs statutory requirement to provide treatment that conforms to best clinical practice.

Under the changes ACC want to make it harder to get funding by making a diagnosis of mental illness a requirement. Furthermore they propose limiting funding to only sixteen sessions.

They also expect clients to disclose the assault(s) and then wait, with no counselling to happen until ACC has approved the claim. This process of approval currently takes weeks, sometimes months.

ACC claim to follow a recent research report titled Massey Guidelines, 2008 yet have mis-interpreted the research report and used it to justify reduced funding for treatment.

This is a view agreed to by the overwhelming majority of professionals who provide this treatment, as represented by:

New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists (NZAP)
New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC)
New Zealand Association of Christian Counsellors (NZACC)
New Zealand Association of Social Workers (NZASW)

As Minster with responsibility for the ACC portfolio we ask that you delay any implementation (which is currently planned for October 12th) until the research and views of the clinicians who provide this treatment can be heard, and the proposed changes to the sensitive claims scheme suitably amended.

By doing nothing and allowing these changes to occur unhindered you are choosing to make recovery from horrific abuse harder for some of the most vulnerable members of this society.