Last year, we successfully pushed the Government to change the law so parents with birth injuries can receive ACC support. This was an incredible win for women’s health and it will make a real difference to the lives of many new birth parents as they take on the important task of raising our tamariki.
But there’s a catch.
The law as it is, only allows some birth injuries to be covered by ACC.
We believe all parents deserve support for the pain and suffering that can be caused through childbirth, which is why today, we’re again asking for your help.
Public submissions are now open on this law change, meaning we can all have our say and ask for improvements. Can you take a moment to ask for more comprehensive care for all birth parents?
We’ve put together the submission templates below to help guide you through the process.
|Guide for birth parents (editable Google doc)|
Submissions close on Friday 11th of February
So what’s wrong with the Bill?
As it is, only some birth injuries will be covered by this law change, meaning some parents will be able to get support, and others won’t.
There are six key improvements we’re asking for:
All birth injuries should be covered by ACC. Only covering some birth injuries will lead to unfair outcomes with some people getting ACC cover for their injuries, and others left out even though the cause of the injury is the same.
Here’s what will and won’t be covered:
- Levator avulsion
- Uterine prolapse
- Obstetric fistula (includes vesico-vaginal, colo-vaginal and uretero-vaginal)
- Labial, vaginal, vulval, clitoral, cervical, rectal and perineal tears
- Ruptured uterus during labour
- Obstetric haematoma of pelvis
- Pudendal neuropathy
- Broken bones and fractures including tailbone, hips, spine, etc
- Tears from episiotomy
- It is unclear whether other types of prolapse will be covered (bladder, bowel, rectum urethra, or small intestine) resulting from muscle strain are not covered.
- Levator avulsion is included, which can be causative of prolapse, but not other muscle or ligament damage which can also be a factor, such as damage to the sacrospinous ligament.
- Nerve damage other than that to the pudendal nerve
Mental injury from birth should also be covered as a birth injury. Many women suffer with mental health after a traumatic birth and this should be given support to recover, regardless of whether there is also a physical injury.
Make it retrospective. This legislation only allows parents who give birth after 1 Oct 2022 to get support, but parents who have existing injuries should have cover too. This legislation should apply retrospectively to allow parents dealing with long term impacts of birth injuries to get help for ongoing treatment needs. It is inequitable to prevent people who would benefit from rehabilitation from being entitled to the same support as everyone else.
Cover injuries to the baby. Birth injury cover should be available to babies who experience injuries during the birthing process. Being a new parent is hard, and this is made harder when pēpi has injuries or disabilities because of the birth process. Parents need support during this time and deserve equitable ACC cover. This Bill needs to end the current unequal situation which only gives ACC cover to babies who suffer a ‘treatment injury’ during birth.
Remove the sensitive claims process. Giving birth can be re-traumatising for many women who have experienced sexual trauma. The Government should remove the sensitive claims assessment process for victims of sexual assault.
- Honor Te Tiriti.This legislation needs significant improvements to support tangata whenua who give birth and their pēpi. Māori are less likely than others to receive help from ACC for injuries and are less likely to be referred by a medical practitioner to ACC. For these reasons, this legislation should be changed so that ACC covers both standalone mental trauma and all physical injuries from birth, not only the list proposed. A Te Ao Māori view of maternal health is holistic and recognises the importance of whānau wellbeing, and the connection between oranga whānau, oranga tinana, oranga hinengaro, and oranga wairua.This legislation should cover all injuries related to birth so that whānau can get holistic maternal healthcare and do not have to face bureaucratic barriers. The Accident Compensation Act also does not mention Te Tiriti O Waitangi once. A commitment to Te Tiriti and equitable care for Māori should also be embedded in the legislation so that ACC can work toward bridging disparities for Māori.
Submissions close on Friday 11th of February.
Follow this link to have your say, and take a look at the Submission Guidelines above if you’d like some tips.