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Rape victims waiting weeks to get counselling

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Nick Smith
Nick Smith

Wellington, May 18 NZPA - Rape victims should not have to wait weeks to get help and that situation needs to improve, ACC Minister Nick Smith told Parliament today.

Labour's Lynne Pillay said that in 2006, when Labour was in government, National MP Chris Tremain highlighted the case of a young woman who was held at knifepoint for 15 hours and repeatedly raped but had to wait six weeks before earnings-related accident compensation could be paid.

"How does he reconcile Mr Tremain's outrage then with the fact that rape victims are now waiting months or indefinitely just for counselling to be approved by ACC?"

Dr Smith said the average time for processing sensitive claims was about 20 days.

"That is unacceptably long. It is one of the reasons that I have established a clinical review of management of sensitive claims. I want ACC to work with clinicians and professionals to ensure that the best possible counselling support within the law is provided to those claimants."

Dr Smith ordered the review after concerns were raised about changes to rules which stipulate ACC-subsidised counselling is only for victims with a diagnosed mental condition caused by sexual abuse, and is generally for 16 weeks, subject to further review.

Ms Pillay asked why the Government did not reinstate the previous process given the "overwhelming opposition".

Dr Smith said it was Labour that wrote the law which set a diagnosed mental injury as a requirement.

He said that since the new guidelines came into effect the amount spent on sensitive claims had remained steady -- for the year to date $45.7 million, compared to $46.7 million for the same period last year.

Labour MPs yelled out that the figures were static because new claims were not being accepted.

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