ACC process for sex abuse victims 'brutal'

ACC process for sex abuse victims 'brutal'

Rape survivor and victims advocate Louise Nicholas has criticised ACC for the way it funds counselling for victims of sexual abuse.

ACC requires victims to prove they have a "mental injury" before it pays for extended treatment. Ms Nicholas says that process can be brutal.

Protesters left a message on the doorstep of ACC today -- a plea to open the doors to support for victims of sexual abuse and violence.

"We're asking ACC to remove the requirement for a psychiatric diagnosis for victims of sexual violence to get the help they need," says Green Party MP Jane Logie.

ACC gives victims of sexual violence 14 hours of free one-on-one therapy before a claim is accepted, and with no questions asked.

After that they have to prove they have a mental injury before ACC will fund more support. That means a diagnosis from a clinical psychiatrist -- something victims say gets in the way.

"We don't need it," says Ms Nicholas. "Our survivors don't need it."

Ms Nicholas she says the process of getting a diagnosis can cause more harm than good.

"It's absolutely dehumanising. It is brutal. They don't want to keep telling and reliving; they just want to know that they're going to be okay, be given the tools to be able to move forward."

For some, it means access to counselling stops.

"For many of our survivors they get told, 'Well, you haven't got a mental illness or a mental injury.' So that's it for them. And that's cruel."

Last year 6600 victims came to ACC for help. More than 1500 claimed for extra support. But the number of accepted claims fell dramatically, from 76 percent to just 61 percent.

ACC Minister Nikki Kaye says she's open to considering change -- something this group hopes will open the door for the victims who feel ACC has shut them out.