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Health & disability

When you’re covered by ACC, and when you’re not

Sexual abuse: Cover for resulting mental harm

ACC cover for mental harm caused by sexual abuse

Accident Compensation Act 2001, s 21, Schedule 3

ACC covers you if you’ve suffering from depression or other mental harm because you’ve been sexually abused. You don’t have to have suffered any physical injury, but to get the full range of ACC assistance you must have a diagnosed mental injury, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The sexual abuse you’ve experienced doesn’t have to be the only cause of your mental injury, but it does have to be a cause.

There’s a special claims process for this type of claim, which is dealt with by a special unit at ACC.

How do I start the process of getting ACC help?

You start the process by talking to a therapist or other health professional. If you feel comfortable talking to your GP, you can begin with them, or instead you can contact a therapist who specialises in this area. To find a therapist, contact a support organisation like Sexual Abuse HELP or Rape Crisis, or go to ACC‘s “Find Support” website www.findsupport.co.nz and click on “Find a therapist”.

What therapy and financial help is available for mental harm caused by sexual abuse?

You’re entitled to some initial therapy sessions paid for by ACC before ACC does an assessment of whether you’ve suffered a recognised mental injury as a result of the sexual abuse. Those initial sessions can help you decide if you want to go through an ACC assessment, which will include giving ACC full information about yourself and what happened. If you do go ahead with an ACC assessment, the assessor will usually be a clinical psychologist, but sometimes a different type of therapist.

If the assessment concludes that you’re covered by ACC, you’ll have access to a full range of ACC entitlements, such as long-term therapy or counselling, compensation for loss of income if your ability to work has been affected (see “Costs covered by ACC: Treatment, compensation and other support” in this chapter), “lump-sum” compensation for permanent harm caused by the abuse (see “Lump-sum payments for permanent disabilities”), and also help for your family or whānau.

Your right to an independent review if ACC reject your claim

As with ACC decisions for other types of claims, you can appeal to an independent reviewer if ACC turns down your claim for mental harm caused by sexual abuse. For example, if ACC‘s assessor decides there’s not a strong enough causal link between your mental condition and the abuse you suffered, you can challenge that on appeal. You can also appeal if ACC accepts your claim generally but refuses you a specific form of assistance like lump-sum compensation. For more details, see “Challenging an ACC decision”.

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Accident compensation (ACC)

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)



Claims helpline: 0800 101 996
Treatment Injury and Sexual Abuse (sensitive claims): 0800 735 566
Accidental death: 0800 101 996
Deaf community fax: 0800 332 354
Email: claims@acc.co.nz

General enquiries

Phone: (04) 816 7400
Email: information@acc.co.nz


Phone: 0800 650 222
Email: complaints@acc.co.nz

Health and Disability Commissioner


Health and Disability advocates are available to help users of health services make complaints about their health service provider. Health and Disability advocates are free.

Sexual abuse claims (“Sensitive” claims)

ACC Sensitive Claims team

Phone: 0800 735 566
Email: sensitiveclaims@acc.co.nz

Find Support website – www.findsupport.co.nz

This is an ACC website that will help you find information and support. You can click on “Find a therapist” on the home page to find a therapist in your area who can help you begin the process of making an ACC claim.

Support organisations

Sexual abuse support centres


TOAHNNEST: Te Ohakii a Hine – National Network for Ending Sexual Violence Together has a list of places where you can get help.

Medical Council of NZ


The Medical Council registers doctors in New Zealand and has responsibilities in the areas of standards, conduct and competence.

Privacy Commissioner


The Privacy Commissioner has a wide range of functions, including investigating complaints about breaches of privacy, running education programmes, and examining proposed legislation and how it may affect individual privacy.



Phone: 0800 273 030

Email: info@wayfinders.org.nz

Wayfinders are a free national service that’s available to anyone who have questions about ACC or a specific ACC claim. Their service is available for people who may want an alternative way to interact with ACC rather than deal with ACC directly.

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