Acting Labour leader Annette King has slammed ACC for its decision to stop funding counselling for two young sexual abuse victims.
The two boys, who are both under seven, were denied ongoing counselling last month after ACC decided they did not meet the criteria for funding set down for sexual abuse victims.
The decision sparked anger amongst rape crisis groups and from New Plymouth-based Safer Centre specialist sexual abuse counsellor Bob Stevens, who was working with the children.
The boys' exhausted and depressed grandmother went public about the decision last week, almost the same time as ACC revealed it had posted a $4.8 billion loss for the past financial year.
ACC has told the grandmother it believed there was no "significant" injury to the children and has offered an assessment by an independent child psychiatrist.
Ms King, who is leading the Opposition party while leader Phil Goff is in the United States, said reports of other victims being denied counselling were becoming more widespread. She is calling for an urgent review of ACC's policy.
"What I have been told is that Rape Crisis and other organisations are reporting hundreds of similar cases," she said. "What we are seeing is the human face of cuts that ACC are making and the sad thing about it is that these people are being victimised twice."
The two boys cut off by ACC in Taranaki are alleged to have suffered almost a year-long cycle of sexual and physical abuse while they were out of the care of their grandmother. Police are investigating the allegations.
Ms King said the message being sent out by ACC was that child victims of sexual abuse were not a high priority for it.
"How could they take away the support that was starting to work for these two little kids and say they don't fit a criteria?"
Ms King believed the situation was making a mockery of Justice Minister Simon Power's promise that National would put victims' rights at the centre of its policy.
"Here is a case where these children are being victimised and abused and they are not a priority," she said.
Labour believes ACC needs an urgent review on its policy, which could have major ramifications for sexual abuse victims long term.
"If you can prevent or intervene early you are going to get much better results before you need drastic surgery," Ms King said. "What are they saying, wait until these kids are 30 or 40 and deal with all their problems then?"
New Plymouth's National MP Jonathan Young did not return calls about the subject yesterday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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