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ACC Sponsored Conference Under Fire

Filed under: Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 12:27 pm Sat 18th June 2005

An ACC sponsored conference dealing with sexual and physical abuse is creating a stir over comments made by some of its speakers.

Streaming Video of TV One News item

The National Party’s Katherine Rich says: ACC must clarify role in abuse conference.

“This fringe conference has a wacky, and what appears to be in some cases a dangerous programme.

“I am not denying the right of people to gather and debate their ideas. What I am questioning is why taxpayer money is being diverted to fund the conference.

“ACC is being promoted as a major sponsor. The Minister needs to explain ACC’s involvement and divulge the level of sponsorship,” says Mrs Rich.

But it is MUCH worse than that!

A plenary speaker is Anne McDonald from Melbourne, who cannot talk, walk or feed herself. Her communication is ‘facilitated’ by Rosemary Crossley, the inventor of Facilitated Communication – a technique whereby a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a severely disabled person and thereby enables that person point to letters of the alphabet. This technique gives severely disabled people the ability to spell out words, sentences and even whole paragraphs of astonishing, unlikely and often wildly pornographic prose. As a result of Facilitated Communication (FC), 100s of families and caregivers worldwide have had their lives and careers destroyed by devastating and subsequently-discredited allegations of sexual abuse.

FC is not a valid technique and has clearly been demonstrated to be quackery.

The use of FC is opposed by organisations such as the AmericanPsychological Association, the American Association on Mental Retardation, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. In the UK Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, President of the High Court Family Division has condemned FC as dangerous and that it should not be used by British courts to support or reject allegations of abuse.

NZ speakers at the conference also include group-action lawyers Roger Chapman and Sonja Cooper. Their workshop is entitled, “Damages claims for abusive treatment at psychiatric and psychopaedic hospitals.”


  1. I would just like to correct for your viewers an article you have on your web page about the Many Faces of Abuse Conference. This conference is not and has not ever been a conference on sexual abuse. If people read this material correctly they would find that it is about the many different kinds of abuse that disabled people, older people and people with mental illness experience in care environments.

    How it has become interpruted as a conference on sexual abuse is quite beyond us. However that it has has had an extremely negative impact on our organisation. We are happy enough that your web page host a link to ours but not that you are inaccurately representing our work.

    We are a very small agency promoting the value of disabled people in our communities, we have no association with sexual abuse and feel that the misinformation on you web page and the inaccurate media that it has generated is risking the ability of our organisation to continue to do its work. If this was to be the case then it is only those people who are most vulnerable who would again left with less support.

    Perhaps you should have a look at Monday’s herald about the abuse that is reported in Spectrum Care in Auckland to see just what our conference is trying to address. If you are an honest and ethical organisation then you will correct this error and apologise to us and to those disabled people who are courageous enough to tell their stories in an attempt to prevent others from having to suffer the experiences they have had.

    Lorna Sullivan

    A detailed response has also been published on the Imagine Better website

    Comment by JohnP — Fri 29th July 2005 @ 10:48 am

  2. Lorna asks:

    How it has become interpreted as a conference on sexual abuse is quite beyond us.

    By involving Rosemary Crossley as a plenary speaker – she is famously responsible for untold numbers of false sexual abuse accusations.

    I don’t see how promoting nutters like her is consistent with your stated aim of “promoting leadership and outcome based quality in services for people with disabilities”. This bizzare choice has done significant damage to the reputation of your organisation.

    Comment by JohnP — Fri 29th July 2005 @ 11:06 am

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