News » NZ Parliament Question Time (25/8/09)

Q, 7. Accident Compensation—Treatment of Sensitive Claims

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

7. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister for ACC: How will the proposed changes to the treatment of sensitive claims meet the legal requirements of the ACC scheme to provide “for a fair and sustainable scheme for managing personal injury that has, as its overriding goals, minimising both the overall incidence of injury in the community, and the impact of injury on the community”?

Hon PANSY WONG (Acting Minister for ACC) : ACC’s proposed changes to the treatment guidelines for mental injury resulting from sexual abuse are based on a comprehensive 5-year programme of clinical research commissioned by the corporation. The Massey University school of psychology undertook this research with a team comprising 23 researchers and an advisory committee of 13 people. A multi-method approach was taken, utilising quantitative and qualitative analysis, literature reviews, questionnaires, and focus groups. The research team included specialists in survivor advocacy, psychology, counselling, education, migrant resettlement, indigenous issues, and the mental health of children and older people.

Hon David Parker: Will the Minister release the medical and scientific evidence that the Minister has relied upon to conclude that the current clinical pathway for the treatment of victims of childhood sexual abuse is not satisfactory, and why were the professional bodies of the current treatment providers excluded from meaningful consultation?

Hon PANSY WONG: I am very pleased to table the report by Massey University commissioned by the corporation, Sexual Abuse and Mental Injury: Practice Guidelines for Aotearoa New Zealand. It was somehow totally forgotten and neglected by the previous Labour Government.

Sue Bradford: How does the Minister reconcile the proposal to impose an arbitrary cap on ACC funding for counselling for victims of sexual abuse with the statement by the Prime Minister in a recent speech to the Sensible Sentencing Trust that “where New Zealanders do become victims of crime, National will give them the support and respect they deserve.”?

Hon PANSY WONG: Indeed, this is a new guideline. It has been proposed because it is not fair or right for victims to have one-size-fits-all treatment, so this proposed treatment takes into account tailored treatment for survivors whether they are women, men, children, adolescents, Maori, Pasifika, or ethnic.

Lynne Pillay: Can the Minister reassure childhood sexual abuse victims that the proposed ACC cuts will not detrimentally impact their quality of life; if so, how?

Hon PANSY WONG: Indeed, all those have been taken into account because this Government is committed to improving the life of survivors and—

Hon Members: Rubbish!

Hon PANSY WONG: This is a very serious issue. The Opposition might feel agitated and not want to know the real reasons, but others might. According to this study, victims’ traumatic ordeals should be seen as a complex life experience and not as a disorder or life sentence. That is why the best-practice treatment is being implemented.

Sue Bradford: Why is the Government requiring victims of sexual abuse to see at least three different health professionals, and does the Minister think it is easy for victims to go over their traumatic experiences, over and over again, with strangers?

Hon PANSY WONG: Indeed, the clinical research conducted by Massey University is not asking victims to relive their traumatic ordeals. This is tailor-made clinical treatment that takes into account each survivor’s personal circumstances.

Lynne Pillay: Given that the Prime Minister promised substantial increases in funds for victims of crime to the Sensible Sentencing Trust at its conference and that there have been cuts to prevention education from $170,000 to $27,000, does the Minister believe that childhood sexual abuse survivors are no longer considered victims of crime?

Hon PANSY WONG: I hope that the member listened to my previous answer, because I am forced to repeat it. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse will receive appropriate treatment based on their personal circumstances. This best-practice guideline will make sure that not all survivors are treated exactly the same.

Lynne Pillay: I seek leave to table a letter to Nick Smith from the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists explaining the shock wave of disbelief at the proposed changes to ACC funding.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Source: Hansard link here

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