Christchurch shooting: Watched his father die but told he wasn't a victim

Warning: This article contains distressing content.

Christchurch butcher Yama Nabi saw bodies lying dead outside the Al Noor mosque, then watched his father die on a livestream of the Christchurch shooting.

But when applied for ACC to cover the time off work he needed to recover from his mental anguish he was told he wasn't a victim.

On the day of the massacre Nabi and his young daughter were running late for prayers. They arrived at Al Noor Mosque in the aftermath of the shooting.

"So I had to leave my daughter at the car, gave her the key. Then I ran toward the mosque, and on the footpath, bodies were lying in the driveway."

Entry to the mosque was impossible and Nabi was being told conflicting stories about his father's whereabouts. He watched the livestream to find the truth.

"My heart was telling me no, Dad's not… He's not alive."

Nabi's father was the patriarch of the Nabi household, and heavily involved in family life. Losing him has hit the family hard. The circumstances have made recovery even harder.

"After the tragedy, you know, once I left Dad in peace...I went to my doctor, and then asked for help from ACC. And they said…'You're not a victim."

This is because the emotional trauma didn't happen at work and there was no physical injury. While the government has announced some help from MSD for victims of the mosque attacks, ACC Lawyer Warren Forster says this doesn’t fix the problem.

So far, ACC has rejected 52 requests for mental health assistance related to the Christchurch mosque attacks but those represent a fraction of total requests of this nature.

"There's thousands of people that experience trauma from sexual assault and family violence each year, and every one of those people needs us to help, and unfortunately our system doesn't actually respond in a way that's effective."

Forster says there's a disconnect between how we treat mental and physical trauma.

"When you look at how a physical injury is responded to, we jump in at the beginning; we fix your broken leg. We don't say, 'Let's wait for a few months and see what happens. If you get worse, we'll amputate it.'

Treasury has previously investigated broadening ACC coverage but estimated the cost at over $4.3 billion annually. Forster says the cost can't be a barrier.

"My message is we can't afford not to. What we see at the moment is cost shifting. Cost is shifted from ACC to the health and welfare system, and then onto individual families."

"It's doable. We just need a plan, and we need agreement and consensus politically, and we need leadership."

Minister for ACC Ian Lees-Galloway declined to appear on Newshub Nation this morning but provided a statement.

"All Governments receive requests to expand ACC coverage but all expansions of ACC require careful analysis of the impacts and costs, significant consultation, and broad cross-party support. This would take considerable time."

"They would also likely impact New Zealand's health and welfare systems.  Any expansion will mean increased ACC costs and therefore higher levies. There are no plans to undertake such a reform this term, but we are investing in mental health care."

Newshub Nation.

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