Govt defends ACC cutbacks for suicides

ACC Minister Nick Smith. Photo / Mark Mitchell
ACC Minister Nick Smith. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Government has defended its ACC cutbacks for the families of suicide cases, following criticism after an Auckland death.

Rikki Noonan, a close family friend of Bruce Arnold, 60, who took his own life last week, said that because of the ACC changes, his family would receive nothing.

Mr Arnold's widow had no means to pay the $5000 cost of his funeral, Ms Noonan said.

Until the changes were passed, families of all suicide cases could receive a range of payments from ACC - a funeral grant, a survivor's grant of around $5000, a share of income-related compensation (for dependents), and funding for counselling.

Now these provisions are restricted to families of suicide cases which arise from mental injury caused either by a physical injury or by sexual abuse; or from a work-related mental injury.

ACC Minister Nick Smith said the changes arose from the Government's position that suicide, although a tragedy, was not an accident.

In respect of paying for funerals, suicides were no different from losing a loved one to cancer, heart disease or "many other tragedies", Dr Smith said.

Labour leader Phil Goff deplored the cutbacks.

"I've had personal experience with family members who have lost their mother through suicide. I know the trauma that that caused them.

"I just think that it's mean and miserable not to provide the assistance to those families in the event of a suicide."

- NZ Herald

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