Sexual abuse claimants face delay in treatment

It’s proving pretty difficult to get any information out of ACC before they plan to re-jig their funding pathway for survivors of sexual abuse to access counselling through the Sensitive Claims Unit.

I have an Official Information Act request for how many claims have been made; how many declined; and whether there have been any internal instructions to claims processors to change the way they assess claims this year.

Others have asked for detailed information on the budget of the Sensitive Claims Unit in terms of counselling costs for survivors.

We’re all being told the information needs more time to process.  Past the time when the new clinical pathway will, in fact be revealed.

Luckily, however, ACC did provide these figures to parliament, which informed this Radio NZ piece:

 Sensitive Claims Jan 2009 - Aug 2009

As you can see, in May 2009, something changed dramatically at the Sensitive Claims Unit – all of a sudden, enormous numbers of people were being made to wait on the outcome of their claim.  People who were asking for help because of distressing symptoms they say are due to sexual violence.  People who might be suicidal or self-harming. 

By August 2009, the percentage of claims pending had risen from 2% in January to 92%, while claims accepted had gone down from 45% to 5%.  The decline rate went down from 53% to 3%.

Yet the number of claims in total have not increased dramatically, according to these figures. 

So had ACC already decided, in May 2009, 4 months before they told those working in the sexual violence sector about the new “clinical pathway”, to just sit on claims, regardless of how many came in?  It’s hard to see otherwise. 

And until they release the data they are having trouble finding, their claims that this is in response to a jump in claims cannot be challenged.

The agency is struggling with a 41 per cent increase in sexual abuse claims in the past few months, with new abuse claims running at 550 a month.

On these figures, that’s just not true.

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