September 6, 2010

The Wicked Triangle - Sex offenders, Centrepoint, and ACC

We knew when looking into this story that, should the mainstream media ever let any of this information out (we suspected they wouldn't but are genuinely pleased they did) that those in positions of trust and responsibility would all start throwing each other under the nearest bus, and guess what? They are starting....
Okay, hats off to David Rankin (ACC) for finally coming clean - at least someone in that organisation has balls. The fact that he worked alongside Felicity Goodyear-Smith is a tad rich, let along while she was weaving her wicked web of 'cost cutting' counselling services but at least he admitted it. And, went on to confirm that yes, her agenda was to cut costs and that ACC knew damn well that she would be the best person for that kind of research - especially given her background of harbouring sex offenders for one, and openly admitting that counselling sex abuse victims is a waste of time - "a sham." Who else would be better qualified?
So now that we all know what we already knew... Nick Smith, funnily enough, still claims to know nothing. He's like that annoying Shultz off bloody Colditz and as we all know, he knew everything, just turned a blind eye. Unlike a TV character, Smith is "suppose" to know real important things about the ministerial portfolio he's been given to look after - well, you'd think, right?  
And this 'turning a blind eye' is real catchy! Now, we're hearing about a police officer who initially investigated the Centrepoint cult, albeit reluctantly, was himself a convicted sex offender. And people think that sex offending is all in the minds of victims. What does felicity Goodyear-Smith call it again? Oh, that's right... false memory syndrome. I wonder if this is what she, herself, suffers from. I mean, it is her husband that's a convicted sex offender; her father-in-law that is a convicted sex offender; her friend and fellow researcher that were convicted as well; her police buddy that initially investigated was a child rapist... oh, the list goes on.
And still Nick Smith knows nothing... So tell me Mr Smith, what the hell DO you know?
By Tim Hume from the Sunday Star Times
David Rankin, now Child Youth and Family's senior medical adviser, has also revealed an advisory group of eight eminent psychiatrists cautioned ACC against introducing a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) diagnosis of mental injury as the threshold for victims of sex crimes to access support.
"They said, 'Be very careful, this is not what it's used for, this is not what it's all about'," Rankin told the Sunday Star-Times. "They said: 'It doesn't indicate severity, it only indicates the presence of a condition and it doesn't in any way tell you what treatment is needed."'
ACC controversially introduced the requirement last year, cutting access to treatment for hundreds, before partially restoring support last month. Two suicides have been linked to the cuts.
Rankin, who was ACC's general manager of health purchasing until 2006, says the main goal of the changes was to cut costs.
"ACC's an insurance company. Its premium-payers are grizzling."
ACC was "under extraordinary pressure to reduce its costs" and "anybody that looks at the counselling costs for sexual abuse must come to the conclusion that there is wasted money," he said. Although sensitive claims represented only a small amount of ACC's total spending, it was an area where the corporation had "extraordinary exposure" to liabilities.
In 2004, Rankin commissioned research into sexual abuse counselling that was co-authored by Auckland University professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith.
He said the research was commissioned because "ACC was concerned at the increase in cost in counselling".
ACC has been criticised for commissioning the research from Goodyear-Smith, who is married to a convicted sex offender and is the daughter-in-law of Centrepoint's convicted paedophile founder Bert Potter. She has been an outspoken critic of sexual abuse counselling, labelling it "a scam".
Her research included a recommendation that victims be assessed with a DSM-IV mental injury diagnosis, which later appeared as a requirement in ACC's "clinical pathway", despite not having been specified in the Massey guidelines, a widely accepted "best practice document" which ACC said guided how the pathway was formulated.
Rankin said Goodyear-Smith's research had set out to determine whether psychologists provided more effective treatment than less-qualified counsellors.
He had been "stunned" when her research had not borne out their expectation that they would.

He said he had been aware of Goodyear-Smith's links to sex offenders and strong views, and for that reason stipulated "that I personally read what she said before we published it".
He blocked a number of her recommendations. "We acknowledged the agenda and protected both herself and us against it," he said.
He did not feel her background disqualified her from objective research, stressing that the research was "numerical" and adding "most people researching in that area have got a bias one way or the other".
Green MP Kevin Hague said he believed the commissioning of Goodyear-Smith reflected the corporation's agenda to cut costs.
"If it's a numerical analysis you want, the public health departments of our universities are packed with biostatisticians who could do that. Why would you choose the researcher with the most extreme view about the topic itself to do this neutral task?
"They used Goodyear-Smith because they knew she would recommend less treatment and less costs for people who had been sexually abused. That, to me, is a scandal."
ACC Minister Nick Smith said he couldn't comment on ACC's objectives in Rankin's time. But he insisted that changes to sensitive claims over the past 12 months had had nothing to do with cost-cutting, but focused on clinical care.
He said an independent clinical panel came to the same conclusion.
"There's been a lot of politics around trying to frame the debate around sensitive claims in context of bigger financial issues around ACC, but the paper trail and the involvement of the clinicians driving this makes it plain these are quite distinct."
He was "uneasy" about Goodyear-Smith's involvement, but had seen no evidence her work had influenced the pathway.

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