September 16, 2010

Naïve, Maori, or both?

Last night Te Karere (Maori News) filmed Ripeka August-Tampeau, an accredited ACC sexual abuse counselor, literally clapping her hands over the Review Panel’s recommendations put to ACC and in particular, those referring to Maori. “We recommended a separate Pathway for Maori…and we’re looking at starting that as soon as possible,” she says.

I find it ironic because right up until these recommendations were published she was the very “sort” of counselor that ACC were refusing to pass clients onto – she simply did not ‘fit’ their criteria and until these recommendations are “actually” enforced, she still does not.  Maybe her ‘glee’ comes from the fact that she might see that trickle of clients grow a little in her private practice. But seriously, what is she on? A separate Pathway, really?

Denise Cosgrove, ACC General Manager Claims Management, said, “So we’ve done some really good work already with the sector (I assume she means Maori) on understanding their issues and concerns with the Pathway and how we can make that facilitate that process better for our clients.”

Let me do the honor of translating this for you: “Ha ha ha… we’re going to do exactly what we’ve done all along – nothing! You don't learn from history much do you? Man, you’re naïve. But to be fair, we won’t be terribly open about our motives so you won’t look so stupid, okay?”

Now I am going to list exactly what the Review Panel recommended to ACC in relation to Maori. Try not to glaze over even if there are really only two recommendations:

In it’s submission to the Review Panel in July 2010, ACC suggested “more than a ‘one size fits all’ approach to tailoring the Pathway and services for their client with specific needs.” In that grouping, they included children and Maori. Not withstanding that the legislative requirements closely associated with ACC’s management of sensitive claims are that they “will be respectful of, and responsive to, the culture, values and beliefs of Maori (Right 3).”  

And what did the Review Panel suggest?

Well they clearly stated the current DSM-IV assessment has “significant limitations with children, adolescents, and Maori and Pacific claimants” (p33.99) and that there were an additional “22 other formal assessment tools…other than the DSM-IV” (p34.105), and that Maori were “disproportionately represented amongst victims of sexual abuse” (p46.162).

Well so far so good.

The Review Panel went on to recognize the Pathway:
§         fails to reflect Te Ao Maori
§         fails to provide for services based on Maori tikanga
§         focuses on an individual rather than a whanau approach
§         fails to recognize the Maori approaches to assessment
§         has resulted in reducing the number of skilled Maori treatment providers available to provide ACC services.

“The Pathway has aggravated the situation for certain groups of sexual abuse survivors including Maori.” Of the Review Panel’s 14 recommendations, two were specifically directed to the treatment of Maori. They recommend that ACC ensures that all aspects of their Pathway(s) and associated claims processes are in line with the Massey Guidelines by seeing they:
  • recognise the special needs of particular groups including Maori and Pacific peoples.
  • that as a priority, ACC commence work with relevant sector experts to agree additional standardized systems for determining mental injury – including ones that would be appropriate for Maori
According to the Review Panel’s publication, ACC responded with, we are “also likely to include further development of ancillary pathways, eg. For Maori and others and work on indentifying standardized systems for determining mental injury in addition to DSM-IV." 

What? No specific Pathway for Maori? No agreement or commitment? How did Ripeka August-Tampeau get from: “We’ll think about it...[to]...we have darn well done it!”? 

Look there is no disputing the woman’s obvious enthusiasm but I just think it is a little too premature and somewhat misguided. Or perhaps it is something else, something more cultural - I mean, is it a Maori cultural ‘thing’ to be seen as ever so graciously grateful even though you've been shafted?

I mean, we’ve had a system implemented and designed specifically to ignore Maori cultural needs and now they clap their hands gleefully at the prospect, the recommendation, that maybe, one day, hopefully soon, they just might get their voices heard.

ACC have not committed to any of the recommendations made by the Panel that deal specifically with Maori but someone didn’t tell Ripeka August-Tampeau that.
Hooray, so ACC are going to help Maori now, she claims. How wonderful. Doesn't she know that Dr Peter Jansen, ACC’s Head of Sensitive Claims Unit and grand implementer of the Pathway, has already spent more than $650,000 to specifically “look into” how Maori are treated within the health sector and ACC, and that's above and beyond the funding for the Clinical Pathways? 
Does she also not realize that despite that funding and research, he still sits on the damning results? (Funds were from the NZ Health Research Council but do not include the additional funding from ACC). And don’t go thinking this research was something new because this research was completed in January 2009 – way before the implementation and subsequent reviews of the Pathway.
So what has happened to that research? Why have they not implemented any of those recommendations? What makes this report and these recommendations any different? ACC fogged off other research projects, where is the guarantee they will implement any of these recommendations let alone any specifically designed for Maori?
And it’s not as if ACC have a very good track record with the likes of Maori.
In 1992, Horiana Joyce and Michelle Erai were contracted to ACC to “develop a set of competency guidelines for Maori working as sexual abuse counselors.” Their focus was developed by ACC. By all accounts, they did a fantastic job but when it was presented to ACC, it was “shelved.” A few years later and under duress, ACC resurrected the research and said, ‘go for it… but go for it without any funding or resources from us.’ Unsurprisingly the project “became inaccessible.” In short, ACC set a counselling standard that ensured Maori would never qualify. 
And what about Te Kakano o te Whanau, established in 1984 to assist Maori women with sexual abuse. By all accounts, they were doing an extremely good job as well. They had several nationwide offices and enabled those affiliated with them to access ACC organizational cover “to provide services at no cost to whanau.” Within three years they opened the first New Zealand based Maori Women’s Refuge. The same research, previously shelved from ACC when it came to funding, was later used to defend their move to push out Maori sex abuse counselors. Some of the measures were the axing of the compensation scheme in the early 90’s and the shift of focus to individuals as opposed to organisations and or whanau based assistance. 
I’m having a slight déjà vue thing here with the similarities’ of the more recent ‘recommendations’ submitted the by Review Panel to ACC only a week ago!
Unsurprisingly, Te Kakano o te Whanau, was “forced to move into recess” as they no longer qualified under the new ACC ‘guidelines.
Yeah, they have been real dead helpful in the past.
Te Karere reporter Erina Smith claims, “the positive thing is that Maori now have the power to be able to build their own Pathway to heal their own people.” If this is not naivety then I do not know what is!

Dr Peter Jansen's Maori Health Research

ACC Historic "Assistance" with Maori Sexual Abuse

Te Karere News - with subtitles

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