ABOVE: Christchurch action. Monday October 19 was a national day of action against ACC’s proposed changes to funding for sexual abuse counseling. Christchurch featured prominently in the media coverage, with a great turnout.
In Auckland, over 200 people gathered in Albert Park to show their support for survivors and protest the ACC cuts to counseling. Speakers from Rape Prevention Education, Courageous Women, Labour Party, the Greens and End Rape Culture Now! (the organisers of the march) spoke about the importance of this issue and why it is necessary to oppose these new changes to ACC.
Survivors led the march to the Auckland ACC office demanding to stop these cuts to counseling. Protestors staged a peaceful sit-in at the ACC offices demanding that a representative of ACC come down to engage in dialogue. Two security guards were guarding the building, and one security guard assaulted a participant of the protest, throwing him on the concrete ground as he tried to join the sit-in. A survivor voiced her personal story in dealing with sexual abuse that had led her to attempt suicide. But nobody from ACC came down to listen. The occupation lasted for about half an hour until it was clear that an ACC representative was not coming, which showed their disinterest in “Prevention”, lack of “Care” and putting further barriers to the “Recovery” of sexual abuse survivors.
In Wellington, about 200 people gathered at the Cenotaph in Lambton Quay, and rallied in front of parliament. Protestors left messages chalked in front of parliament building. The march then moved on to the ACC offices in Molesworth Street, which was protected by a handful of cops and security goons. A representative read out a list of demands to ACC. Protestors left post-it notes and chalk messages on the street-face of the building to explicate the positions of abuse survivors in the crowd.
“All New Zealanders know someone who is affected by sexual abuse and assault. ACC should be supporting them, not abandoning survivors when they need help most”, said spokesperson Felicity Perry, “Having to be diagnosed with a mental illness in order to receive treatment will further traumatize abuse survivors”.
The march then continued back down Molesworth Street to the Cenotaph again, where final messages of support for abuse survivors were given, and the collective crowd disbanded.
Around 150-200 people gathered for a march in Christchurch. Speakers included Ken Clearwater from Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust and Marie Meyer, Chairperson for Canterbury and Westcoast NZ Association of Counsellors. Both talked about the effects that the changes would have on a survivors ability to get the support and help that they needed. Ken spoke about his own abuse as a 12year old and how greatly this had negatively impacted on his life up until the time that he started to receive help.
Many of those attending the march were those who work in the community counselling and social services fields and see this the governments way of beginning to privatise the health sector.
Marie Meyer spoke of how the changes are an attack on some of the most vulnerable members of society and over the disgust that many in the counselling area feel that there was no consultation over the cuts and over the unnecessary, abusive and traumatic processes being brought in by ACC.
Red ribbons were hung in the trees around the outside of the ACC offices and many people wore red to express their anger over the cuts and tied red balloons in the trees and on lampposts!
In Dunedin around 50 people from all walks of life marched from ACC offices to the National Party headquarters and then to the octagon to listen to speakers talk about the impact these changes will have.
For video please click here: http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/hundreds-protest-against-acc-changes-3082851/video
Further actions are planned for the Tuesday October 27, the day the changes are to be implemented. In Christchurch, meet in the Cathedral Square and march to ACC offices. Other centres will be posted up soon.