MENZ Issues December 1997: Volume 2 Issue 4
Gender Bias in the Health System? Article about North Health’s policies.
Men’s Centre News – Photocopier drama.
1996 Submission on The Health of Men Criticisms of North Health discussion document.
Doctor Calls for Prostate Cancer Screening Programme Dr Ronnie Cohen – Senior Lecturer at Auckland School of Medicine, interviewed on ‘The Men’s Hour’ – Access Radio 810AM Mon.13th October 1997.
Social Security (Conjugal Status) Amendment Bill – Battered Woman Syndrome Submission by COSA (Casualties Of Sexual Allegations)
Father and Child Trust set up New organisation started in Christchurch.
More Men’s Centre News Phone bills, international recognition.
Recovered Memory Therapy – A Father’s Story interview with Gordon Waugh, Foundation and Executive Member of Casualties Of Sexual Allegations.
Gender Bias in the Health System?
"Men are entitled to health services where they will be treated with dignity, as whole persons in their own right, not merely in terms of their role as fathers or their protector / provider attributes…"
"We aim to help men make informed choices about their health by purchasing accurate and easily understood information services outlining the many health options facing men today. We believe it is important that men are satisfied with both the range of services available and the way in which those services are delivered."
Sounds like just the sort of philosophy that should be behind North Health’s policy on men’s health, so what are we complaining about? Well, the problem is that this quote is from the document The Health of Women, with genders swapped by Mark Rowley. He asked why the two paragraphs above could not also have been in the men’s paper in his 1996 submission on the North Health Discussion Document The Health of Men (inside, page 2).
In contrast, the men’s document contains statements such as:
"The factor which emerges as the central culprit for the poor state of men’s health is the social construction of masculinity – the way men are socialised in our society."
"Probably the greatest payoff for health in the long term………would be an attempt to change what it means to be a man in New Zealand society." And even more disturbing:
"There is some evidence to support the theory that men who exhibit traditionally ‘female’ characteristics, such as compassion and being sensitive to others, are more likely to be concerned with and protective of their health".
We at the Men’s Centre North Shore oppose the concept of spending public money on attempts to ‘feminize’ young men and boys. Full marks to North Health for initiating this discussion on Men’s Health, but we question their judgement in endorsing this writer’s viewpoint.
He did get some things right though; we must give them credit for acknowledging that:
"There is a gender-bias present in the coordination and delivery of many health care services in the region. Although differences in age, locality and ethnicity are observed when planning to target at-risk groups, gender differences are not equally observed……..there are very few services available which target at-risk men."
The question now, almost two years later is: has North Health listened to us, and what are they planning to do to address the problem? Their Draft Purchasing Plan for mental health services over the next six years seems to concentrate on shifting resources to the Maori and Pacific Island communities, and there is no mention of new services for men at-risk.
Over the next few months we’ll be asking North Health about their intentions regarding Men’s Health, encouraging them to stay away from ill-considered social engineering programmes of dubious merrit and insisting that they concentrate on targeting basic health services at all people who need them.
John Potter, December 1997
Heroic effort by local serviceman saves the day
A small jamming problem with the Men’s Centre photocopier turned into a major disaster last week. Mike McClelland from North Shore Copiers didn’t know what he was in for when he offered to "look after us" after hearing about our current financial crisis. It took three visits and many hours of work before the November MENZ Issues could finally be printed.
When Mike started shaking his head and saying "I don’t think I’ve ever seen a problem quite like this.", I thought we were going to have to take the machine (which was admittedly very cheap) to the dump, but fortunately he recovered a memory of encountering a similar problem many years ago and now we are back in business.
If you need a photocopier serviced we recommend you call Mike on 443 3667 or (025) 518 462.
1996 Submission on ‘The Health of Men’
My main concern with the document is two-fold: first, the way in which the concept of traditional masculinity has been put forward to explain the statistics along with associated proposals on how this masculinity must be changed; second, the poor recognition of realistic structural and practical ways in which men’s health can be immediately improved.
I agree that it is probable that a certain proportion of the ill health suffered by males is the result of specifically male behaviour, as discussed in the document. Where I part company with the authors can be summarised in the following points:
There is just too much recent scientific evidence, and Moir and Jessel’s Brainsex is an excellent source for this, for anyone to seriously suggest that males can be significantly changed across the broad range of behaviours discussed in the North Health document. Males do differ from females in aggression, toughing it out, competitiveness, expression of emotion, the relative importance of relationships and risk taking. The evidence is very clear that male and female hormones acting upon emerging male and female brain structures, in the foetus at various stages, through early childhood and again strongly at puberty set much of what we term sex-role behaviour.
The best that feminists and constructivists can offer by way of a scientific or non-scientific explanation for male behaviour of the type described is that of "traditional male stereotype" or "traditional construction of masculinity". An essential part of the feminists’ task of tearing down the "oppressive male patriarchy" is in radically restructuring traditional masculinity. It would be politically and ethically most unwise for North Health to wittingly or unwittingly buy into a fight on this issue.
Men at large have not been consulted on this proposal to radically restructure masculinity, assuming for a moment that masculinity could be changed. Various programmes have been and are being tried in Australia and New Zealand schools, generally without proper parental and community consultation, in areas as diverse as bullying, sexism, non-competitiveness, anger management, sexual harassment, emotional expressiveness and encouragement of males into non-traditional areas, and I have yet to hear of any research which shows there is lasting, widespread or beneficial change in these areas, and I work as a counsellor and health educator in a school. These behaviours continue regardless. The question must be asked, if you can’t change these behaviours in boys in a relatively controlled environment, what hope is there of changing them in men, consenting or not? And there would probably be more than a few women who would like to be consulted before society, with North Health in the vanguard, consigned traditional masculinity to oblivion.
Men at large are blamed for their bad health in this document. This contrasts sharply with the way homosexuals, Maori men, and women are dealt with. In conventional PC discourse these groups are all victims, oppressed and exploited by the dominant group, men. Therefore, there is relatively little discussion of how to find out what men want and need and of improving the delivery of better health care services to men. There is, by contrast, a heavy emphasis on saying what is wrong with men.
Discussions of the health problems facing gays and prostitutes, for example, focus on finding out the health needs of the members of these groups, providing them, with particular emphasis on safer sex education, assistance with STD’s and clinics. Nowhere is it suggested that these people need to restructure their sexuality, their femininity or masculinity. It is not even suggested that they simply cease their sex behaviour. Of course, that behaviour is seen as impossible to stop – and yet North Health asks that all men stop being competitive and tough. Sen-sational call!
The North Health documents make gratuitous and factually wrong swipes at men in the area of domestic violence. There is extensive evidence showing the incidence of male and female domestic violence is near parity, while the whole issue of male injuries from domestic violence is not even hinted at in the men’s document. This non-reporting of such incidents and injuries by men would be a very fruitful area of investigation for North Health to embark on, if it weren’t so politically suicidal.
Men don’t menstruate, conceive or lactate. Women do. Men are generally not responsible for the health needs of infants and young children, nor for the family’s food and eating habits. Women are. This automatically gives most women a much higher body and health awareness than most men.
In addition, women place a higher value on looking young and staying slim than men, who are less concerned with their body image. Healthy looking skin, nails, eyes and hair can all be achieved by attention to diet, sleep, relaxation and personal hygiene. Men are not noted for attention to these things.
The document does not really address the health effects of unemployment and redundancy, especially among the unskilled, nor the effects upon men of the disintegration of the traditional nuclear family (only 13.5% are now such at last census count, defined as parents legally married with at least one child and where the father is the breadwinner and the mother the homemaker). Nor does it take into account the huge stress on separated and divorced non-custodial fathers, the heavy and often unjust child support payments ordered by courts, the now well-documented false child-abuse allegations and a wide range of laws that are progressively disadvantaging men and loading great stress on them thereby.
As mentioned above, men need to be consulted fully on their health needs and then the services provided to meet those needs. Merely requiring men to change their masculinity and getting schools to attempt to do it is a cynical cop-out costing North Health virtually nothing and likely to achieve even less.
Raising men’s awareness of their poor health and of their health needs is a vital, urgent, realistic and achievable goal. I believe men can be successfully educated into better health practices, without this crazy dream of socially re-engineering and emasculating men.
Simple though not cheap, but certainly effective structural changes for working men would include employer provision of more nursing and medical services, perhaps with government incentives, and for self-employed men, free medical treatment so that a salesman or a contractor could take time off work to visit a medical facility without facing a double monetary penalty.
The document The Health of Women should be more of a guide for North Health in the next draft of the men’s policy. Questionnaires, surveys, meetings, as for women. I am aware that discussion and provision of women’s health services is some years ahead of men’s, but there is no good reason why the two paragraphs on the frount page could not also have been in the men’s document.
by Mark Rowley
Doctor Calls for Prostate Cancer Screening Programme
Interview by Robert Mann broadcast on The Mens Hour Access Radio 810AM Monday 13th October with Dr Ronnie Cohen – Senior Lecturer at Auckland School of Medicine.
Bob: What is prostate cancer and will this affect me?
Ronnie: Prostate cancer is a malignant disease of the prostate gland, a structure found just below the bladder. The average New Zealand male aged 50 currently has a one in 20 chance of dying from prostate cancer and a one in 10 chance of this disease causing problems requiring surgery or drug therapy during his lifetime. These risks unlike those for other cancers are increasing each year such that a man currently aged 20 years has a one in 10 chance of dying of prostate cancer and a one in six chance of this cancer causing problems. These figures double if one has a first-degree relative with prostate cancer (brother father etc).
Currently 600 New Zealand men die of prostate cancer each year which is expected to increase to 1200 within 20 years. This compares with 90 deaths per year in New Zealand from cevical cancer.
Bob: What is benign prostate disease and how does it differ from cancer?
Ronnie: Benign enlargement is a condition that is two or three times as common as cancer affecting many men by causing urinary obstruction. Early cancer on the other hand causes no symptoms at all
Bob: Is prostate cancer curable ?
Ronnie: Early prostate cancer confined to the prostate gland is curable by surgery and/or radiotherapy. Once the disease has spread outside the gland it is incurable. Hormone therapy frequently used for prostate cancer is only palliative; it does not increase the life expectancy of the patient, it only delays the onset of symptoms.
Bob: How do we detect prostate cancer?
Ronnie: Prostate cancer is detected using a blood test (PSA) in conjunction with digital rectal examination. This test will detect 60 to 70 % of cancers. It more importantly detects cancers that in more than 90% of cases will cause morbidity or kill.
Bob: If early cancer can be treated why does the Cancer Society of New Zealand and the National Health Committee discourage doctors from testing or attempting to diagnose early cancer?
Ronnie: Almost all men who live long enough get very small or microscopic cancers in their prostates that are very rarely diagnosed during their lifetime. We know these exist from post mortem studies. These tiny cancers do not raise the serum PSA, cannot be detected by rectal examination and very rarely (1:300) grow into bigger cancers. The National Health Committee and other organisations in order to avoid costs confuse the medical fraternity and the public as follows.
Firstly the microscopic small cancers that are almost never detected in life are muddled up with the larger important cancers. Statements made about the innocuous nature of prostate cancer often refer to these microscopic tumours which we almost never see.
Secondly as prostate cancer has a longish (+/-10 years) natural history from early diagnosis to death, the effects of this cancer are most important in men who are young and fit, and are less important in older or more frail men who are likely to die of other causes. Currently more men with prostate cancer are older or frail and they are less likely to benefit from radical treatment. The National Health Committee does not attempt to target younger men with prostate cancer and simply buries them in the larger group.
It would cost $27 million per annum to screen, diagnose, and treat the entire male population at risk in New Zealand (estimated by the Cancer Society of New Zealand). The cost of a comprehensive breast screening campaign in New Zealand is still to be determined. The cost of national screening using the PSA test would be $4 million per annum. This is based on a target population of 350,000 New Zealand men who are currently over 50 years of age and have a greater than 10 year life expectancy. This is the group most likely to benefit from such a programme. This compares to the $6 million annually spent on cervical screening (not diagnosis or treatment).
As we have very good evidence that prostate cancer is becoming very much more common in younger men in New Zealand it is up to them to force the uninterested government to make prostate cancer priority in health care as women have done with breast and cervical cancer.
Bob: Thank you for your time.
Social Security(Conjugal Status) Amendment Bill – Battered Woman Syndrome
An amendment to the Social Security bill is about to go before a Select Committee. The key objective of this amendment is to allow for the granting of an emergency benefit "where battered woman’s syndrome is present or there are grounds for believing it is present".
While acknowledging that some provision should be made for the granting of an emergency benefit for a short period of time while someone is assisted in moving out of a violent relationship, we have strong objections to any reference to ‘battered woman’s syndrome’ entering into New Zealand legislation. While ‘battered woman syndrome’ is not directly about false sexual allegations, it is driven by the same gender-feminist ideology: ie that all men are potential aggressors and all women potential victims.
OSA’s objections to the syndrome are on both scientific and ethical grounds.
The concept of battered woman syndrome was invented by Lenore Walker in 1979. She hypothesised that women living in violent relationships suffer a cycle of violence and experience learned helplessness which prevents them from leaving the relationship. The theory is based on the observations of this sole researcher and subsequent research has not found any empirical basis for her claim. ‘Battered woman syndrome’ is a poorly substantiated hypothesis which has not been corroborated by serious rigorous scientific testing.
‘Battered woman syndrome’ does not meet the Daubert test for scientific reliability in the United States law courts. It fails to pass the four criteria for Daubert validity:
- Scientific testability: there has not been adequate testing of this syndrome.
- Error criteria: criteria under which women suffer a violent relationship but do not develop the syndrome have not been established.
- Peer review journal publication: the principal research project on which battered woman syndrome expert testimony is based has only been published in the popular press, not in peer reviewed journals.
- General acceptance test: while battered woman syndrome might be considered valid by clinical psychologists who work in the field of domestic violence (and hence with a financial vested interest), there would be few experimental psychologists who would consider it a valid entity.
Walker claims that the syndrome is not a form of insanity, but a normal response of women in violent relationships. A woman is said to be suffering from the syndrome if she undergoes at least two cycles in her relationship of being repeatedly subjected to any forceful physical or psychological behaviour by a man in order to coerce her do something he wants her to do. Hence a woman can be considered battered even if there is no physical violence.
Entering and endorsing the theory of ‘battered woman syndrome’ in our legislation undermines the principles of the neutrality of justice, equality before the law and individual autonomy. While the current amendment relates to social welfare payments, once established in our legislation it is likely also to become a defence for women who physically harm or kill their spouses. Certainly in cases of spouse homicide, it may be relevant for a woman to use a history of past violence, especially if her life has been threatened, as grounds for self-defence. However, there is no reason why this needs to be labelled ‘battered woman syndrome’.
The women’s liberation movement of the 1960s fought for women’s emancipation, to achieve equal opportunity for both men and women, and for equality before the law regardless of gender. However the radical feminist legal theory which emerged in the 1980s (and which has brought us the battered woman syndrome) rejects the time-honoured principles of equal rights, justice and autonomy on the basis that these are patriarchal concepts. Ironically, ‘battered woman syndrome’ is a paternalistic theory which portrays women as weak, helpless and needing special privileges and protection. It denies women status as autonomous adults who are responsible for their actions.
The syndrome appears to be primarily an advocacy-driven construct designed to support justification claims by women who have killed their spouses, the product of political ideology rather than science.
All adults should have equal rights and responsibilities. Women, or any other adult group, should not be assigned special status in our jurisprudence.
COSA is strongly opposed to the unsubstantiated concept of ‘battered woman syndrome ‘ entering our legislation. Such an action would be doing the women of New Zealand a disservice. We hope that the Social Services Select Committee avoids bowing to pressure groups in this regard. Given its lack of scientific basis, it appears to be an ill-conceived concept that is likely to be increasingly rejected by North American law courts, where it first emerged. Eminent legal commentators are predicting that the syndrome will soon pass from the American legal scene. Rather than learn retrospectively from their mistakes, we hope the Select Committee decides to act as vanguard in this instance.
Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith.
Father and Child Trust set up
The New Zealand Father and Child Trust wants to know about any running or planned fatherhood initiatives or father’s organisations in New Zealand to build up a database. We are about to produce our Father & Child magazine and would like to list these organisations / initiatives in it.
The Trust’s aims are to establish networks of fathers, provide practical help, run education programmes both for fathers as well as health/social service providers and companies to make these more father-friendly, and provide comprehensive representation of fathers where decisions affecting children and parents are made. The Trust promotes positive, involved fathering. Our constitution requires that at least four of these "portfolios" are represented on the Board of Trustees: single custodial fathers, fathers as primary caregivers, fathers with limited or no custody, youth fathers, Maori fathers, working fathers.
If you would like a free copy of the first newsletter please e-mail your name and adress. Membership of the Father & Child Trust is $20 per year.
- To improve access of families to existing parent and child health services where the father is the primary caregiver.
- To give all fathers access to parenting and child health information independent from the mother.
- To give men opportunities to socialise and gain confidence as fathers and to create networks of fathers and their children.
- To open up existing playgroups and activities to meet the needs of working fathers.
- To identify areas of particular need.
There is a striking imbalance between the number of fathers who have taken on a major role in the raising of their children and the number of fathers who access parent services. Fathers’ attendance of playgroups, for instance, is disproportionally small and they are grossly underrepresented on the committees of these organizations.
In addition, there are virtually no networks of fathers. At present, men have few, if any, opportunities to socialise as fathers, not as employees of a particular company or as sportsmen. As a result the role of a father had become somewhat blurred, fathers are unsure about their role and typically have low confidence in their parenting skills. For primary caregiver fathers this situation often results in isolation, which is potentially dangerous for the stability of the family and the safety of its members.
A father who is confident in his role is likely to be highly involved with the upbringing of his children – something that is more and more recognised as being of paramount importance to our society as a whole. A mother who understands her partner’s or ex-partner’s importance to their children is less likely to prevent his involvement or reduce his influence. Having two involved parents, a mother and a father, has been shown to be very stabilising for the children and to reduce the likelihood of this family breaking apart, regardless of the particular economical situation. Both physical and sexual child abuse are most common where the biological father is little involved with his children or he is absent altogether.
The needs of fathers should be evaluated and adressed by the major child and family organisations. This project aims to bring fathers and these organisations together, to help fathers lose their shyness in using these services and to help these organisations to become father-aware and to open up their services to the "other" parent. At the same time it is important that fathers support each other and develop positive male role models among themselves. The Father&Child Trust believes that a father-specific service will better enable fathers to access current family services as well as endeavouring to meet fathers’ unique social and personal needs. The approach of many organisations to fatherhood is regarded as patronising and arrogant by a large number of men.
The Fathers’ Access to Parent Services project represents a new approach, as it works on the assumption that fathers do want to be involved with their children and it is the removal of obstacles and encouragement that is needed.
Save the Men‘s Centre Phone Appeal
Last month I wrote to Rod Deane, CEO Telecom New Zealand Ltd, informing him that our organisation is a small, volunteer community group working for men, and that we get referrals from groups such as the CAB, so that we can pass on information and advice to men in crisis. We are now faced with on-going costs of well over $100 a month because we need call diversion and have to pay for incoming calls. We have previously applied to have our rental reduced to the residential rate but with no success.
Last week a letter arrived from Telecom, and I opened it with trembling fingers only to discover that the charge is about to rise by almost a cent a minute. Perhaps a few polite letters to Mr Deane (PO BOX 570 Wellington) pointing out the benefits to Telecom’s corporate image that will accrue from his supporting us, may yet get a positive response.
However, our immediate problem is that we now need $120 each month. Please think about setting up a direct credit so that you can donate $10 or $20 a week to keep us running. Each newsletter costs about $200 for paper, photocopy toner and stamps. There is currently no community funding on the horizon, although we have had an offer of help in making applications.
In the meantime, we rely on the generosity of our supporters.
Men’s Hour Radio Programme has International Impact
The following interview by Bob Mann on "The Men’s Hour", was broadcast on Access Radio Monday 13th October. Following the show, Mark posted this transcript on the internet to a group of New Zealanders who regularly discuss men’s issues.
One of them was so impressed that he posted it on "witchut" – a long-running international newsgroup that discusses sexual abuse hysteria. From there it was picked up by a Canadian researcher who sends a digest version of the most interesting articles on witchut to researchers around the world, so by Wednesday morning it was back in New Zealand waiting in Felicity’s e-mail.
The story was also sent to the editor of the Canadian False Memory Society journal, who we hear intends to publish it. It’s good to know our efforts to get the word out about this tragic problem are succeeding.
Recovered Memory Therapy – A Father’s Story; interview by Robert Mann
Bob: Now I’d like to introduce listeners to Gordon Waugh. Gordon is a Foundation and Executive Member of Casualties Of Sexual Allegations -COSA, an organisation which helps people, men and women, who have been falsely accused of sexual abuse. He has first-hand experience of being falsely accused. Good evening, Gordon.
Gordon: Good evening Robert and listeners.
Bob: Gordon, you were accused of sexual abuse by your eldest daughter over 5 years ago. How did that happen?
Gordon: My wife and I believe our experience is typical of thousands of similar cases. The eldest of our three daughters was 33 when she went to a counsellor in 1992. Our second daughter went to some of the counselling sessions to hold her sister’s hand, and they both began to "recover" memories during the counselling. They accused me of all sorts of unbelievable sexual activities.
The allegations ranged through an amazing string of events from when the eldest one was about one and a half, to about 14 years of age. According to the second daughter, I apparently constrained my activites only to her elder sister. Their allegations included a long list of indecent assaults, arranging and condoning her rape by a family friend, and repeatedly raping her myself over many years. She told me about these ideas on 6 May 1992, just as I was getting set to retire. Her allegations shattered our family and our retirement plans. We haven’t had any contact with them or our grandchildren since then. That was about 5 and a half years ago.
Bob: Those are pretty strong accusations. Did the police charge you ?
Gordon: She made a formal complaint to the police, but instead of claiming rape and incest and abuse by other men, she came up with an entirely new list of indecent assault allegations which I was supposed to have committed. I later found out that she had put in a claim to ACC for compensation, and got thousands of dollars.
The police interviewed my youngest daughter, who knew all about the first set of allegations, but nothing about the new ones. They interviewed me, but decided there were too many contradictions to pursue the complaint.
Bob: What does your youngest daughter think about all this ?
Gordon: She was 29 at the time this happened, and has given us total support. We have regular and normal contact with her and her family. She thinks her sisters are in Fantasy Land, and doesn’t have any contact with them, even though we all live in Auckland.
But it’s not in my nature to sit back and accept that sort of nonsense from anyone, and those allegations catapulted me into a field I never knew existed. So I set about the task of finding out how on earth she came to believe that various men had abused her, and why ACC had given her compensation.
Bob: That sounds like quite a task. What did you find?
Gordon: It’s no easy matter to hear that sort of rubbish spewing out of your own daughter’s mouth. It took about a year or so for me to find my feet again and begin thinking clearly. We met up with Dr. Felicity Goodyear-Smith, who had been researching the increasing number of these sorts of allegations, and we helped her to set up an organisation which we called COSA – Casualties Of Sexual Allegations. I’ve learned a lot about sexual abuse in those five years, and I’d like to share some of that with you and your listeners.
Bob: It’s a very broad subject. What main topics would you like to talk about?
Gordon: There are three really important areas. Firstly, the part played by the Accident Compensation Corporation. Secondly, the extent and effects of this type of racket. And thirdly, the counselling business and the Sex Abuse Industry.
Bob: That’s a lot to get through, so why don’t you start by telling us something about ACC.
Gordon: I don’t think the general public knows what goes on inside ACC. During the 1980’s, ACC handled about 200 sexual abuse claims a year. When the counsellors entered the scene in the early 1990’s, that skyrocketed to 13,000 in 1993. At the peak of the frenzy, ACC were getting up to 500 claims a week. We have averaged about 10,000 claims a year since 1993.
By 1996, when ACC closed off the lump-sum scheme, they had paid out about 50,000 such claims. Most claimants got about $10,000, but others got a lot more. On that basis, although ACC don’t admit it, they paid out about 500 Million dollars. While the flow is down a little in the 1997 FY, claims are still flooding in at close to 9,000 a year.
I’ve recently pointed out to the Chief Ombudsman and various Ministers of the Crown, that when an allegation of sexual abuse is made, whether it’s true or false, it has an adverse effect on the circle of family and friends of the accuser.
That circle usually consists of grandparents, parents, siblings, aunties and uncles, cousins, family friends and associates. Typically about 20 or more people. The allegations made by those 50,000 ACC claimants have therefore adversely affected about a million other people. And that is a social disaster of monumental proportions.
Bob: 50,000 claims costing $500 million and a million people affected! Why was there such a huge increase?
Gordon: There’s two main aspects. Firstly, the ACC legislation allows claims for sexual abuse. The level of proof to support a claim is almost non-existent. All that is necessary is for a woman to go to a counsellor, and say she had been sexually abused. How she came to that conclusion is another story. The counsellor does a two-hour assessment, and if she believes the client, (let’s face it, she always believes the client!) she submits an Assessment Report to ACC, and gets approval to continue the counselling.
Before the lump-sum scheme was closed off, the client put in a claim and got paid $10,000 per incident. But there is no external investigation. No corroboration. Just the word of the client and her counsellor.
For example, my daughter put in a multiple claim, and she got tens of thousands of dollars. I fought ACC for two years over this, and eventually forced them to admit at least part of the truth. I told you earlier that my daughter made a complaint to the police and hadn’t mentioned abuse by any other men. Knowing the huge list of allegations she made against me, I naturally thought her ACC claim was about me, but I found out it was a claim that other men had abused her.
I was only mentioned in passing. The counsellor who did the Assessment Report had written "….this [event/situation]….exacerbated the effects and feelings, largely suppressed, of earlier childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by her Father." The counsellor had never met me. She refused to talk to me. There was no investigation, no evidence, no corroboration. And she was paid her $56 an hour for those lies, and my daughter got tens of thousands of dollars.
Bob: That sounds like fraud!
Gordon: It is. It’s a racket. It’s a disgrace. You might remember the Simone Doublett case in Christchurch. With the help of her counsellor, a Registered Psychologist with a Doctorate, she got $10,000 for her claim of Satanic Ritual Abuse. She later realised she was mistaken, and made arrangements with ACC to repay the money. ACC later decided to have her charged, and she was convicted.
But ACC and its Minister don’t want to do anything about the thousands of other false claims. It’s just too embarrassing for the Government and for ACC. Fortunately for the taxpayer, the lump-sum scheme was finally terminated, but at $56 per hour, open-ended counselling is still funded on a huge – although undeclared – scale.
The second aspect is that most people initially go to counsellors for depression, or relationship difficulties, or some form of psychological problem. While the ACC Scheme allows claims for "personal injury" associated with the psychological effects of sexual abuse, it doesn’t allow for any other causes of psychological illness.
If clients go to counsellors with a psychological problem, the only way many of them can get treatment is by claiming sexual abuse as the cause. And the only way the counsellor can get her money is by finding sexual abuse. So the scheme has been ripped off by the counsellors and their clients, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Our President, Dr Goodyear-Smith, wrote an excellent book about the sex abuse industry. It’s called "First Do No Harm : The Sexual Abuse Industry". It’s available from her at a cost of just $27.95.
Perhaps I could talk to you in another session about counsellors, but very briefly, they believe in a number of absolutely ridiculous theories, and they use an all-embracing list of the so-called "symptoms" or "indicators" of sexual abuse, which apply to almost everyone on the planet. Their reasoning is that if you ever had such things as nightmares, anxiety, relationship difficulties, aggression, lack of self-esteem, or any of dozens of other minor problems, you must have been sexually abused.
Bob: Thank you for your views and information, Gordon.