What a shambles the Government’s proposed changes to ACC’s clinical pathway for sexual abuse survivors is becoming.
Without any consultation with the professional bodies representing psychotherapists or counsellors, ACC announced changes last week that would have required sex abuse survivors to relate their trauma to up to three different health professionals before they would receive any treatment. It also proposed to limit therapy to 16 sessions, with claimants having to demonstrate “exceptional circumstances” to receive ongoing therapy.
Sue Bradford raised the issue in the House yesterday. ACC Minister Nick Smith was absent – perhaps finding new ways to obfuscate on climate change targets – so it was left to Associate Minister Pansy Wong to defend the proposal.
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.
Just hours after the Associate Minister’s denial, ACC made her look even more foolish by backing down on a substantial part of the proposal and admitted that it would, despite her denial, have required disclosures to additional health professionals:
Dr Kevin Morris, said last night that the proposal would be modified in response to feedback before it comes into force on September 14.
“The provider/assessor split – we won’t be taking that because I don’t think that’s going to work,” he said.
“Individuals having to disclose to a number of different people – that has always been a problem in this area. We have no intention of trying to make it any worse than it is.
We are quite keen to improve that.”
He said the agency also had no intention of removing a client’s right to choose their own therapist.
However, it appears that the requirement for claimants to demonstrate “exceptional circumstances” to receive counselling sessions in excess of an arbitrary limit looks set to remain, even though professional advice indicates additional rehabilitation would be beneficial.
The whole proposal has been poorly thought through. ACC should put it on hold and start again by undertaking proper consultation with the appropriate professional bodies.