From October 27th, survivors of sexual violence will only be eligible for ACC funded counselling if they are first diagnosed with a mental illness.
Firstly, you don’t need to have a mental illness to need a few counselling sessions after going through a traumatic and disempowering experience. Why should a survivor miss out on services because he/she is not considered to be victimised enough?
Secondly, it shouldn’t be necessary to prove a mental state before being allowed access to services. Mental health diagnosis is not an exact science, particularly not with just the short sessions given for a psychiatric assessment. How many survivors will even feel comfortable talking about their abuse with a stranger from ACC whose only interest is seeing whether they have to fork out the cash?
Finally, the long-term effects of being diagnosed with a mental illness can be far reaching. There are many times in your life where you can be required to disclose such a diagnosis getting a mortgage, taking out a life insurance policy, even job interviews. Some counsellors are opposed to using psychiatric diagnosis in sexual violence cases because it can re-victimise survivors.
Dr Kim McGregor from the National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together has said the new procedure would allow ACC to check with survivors’ doctors and employers to assess whether their mental condition could be traced directly to the abuse. In other words ACC will be able to treat sexual violence the same way they treat a sore neck or any other injury. Blame the survivor if he/she has a history of mental illness.
Please join the national day of action against these cuts next Monday 19th October.
AUCKLAND: Meet at 12pm, Albert Park band rotunda, CBD.
WELLINGTON: Meet at 12.30pm, Cenotaph, Lambton Quay.
CHRISTCHURCH: Meet at 12.30pm, Speakers Corner, Cathedral Square (beside Chess Board)
DUNEDIN: Meet at 3pm, ACC offices, Corner Maclaggan & Clark Streets.