Mind over Matter: An Analysis of ACC's Treatment of Mental Injuries in the Wake of the Christchurch Terror Attacks

31 Pages Posted: 4 May 2020 Last revised: 13 May 2020

See all articles by Rebecca Tyler

Rebecca Tyler

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni

Date Written: September 2, 2019

Abstract

The ACC scheme has long been criticised for the boundaries it has placed on coverage under the Act. This paper will focus on the Act’s treatment of mental injuries, in light of the Government’s recent decision not to extend coverage for ‘purely’ mental injuries following the Christchurch terror attacks. Due to a reliance on common law notions of compensation eligibility for mental injuries, the Act’s current framework perpetuates the stigmatisation of mental health and injuries by relegating it to a position below physical injuries. This is not a position that should be accepted by our current government which claims to prioritise mental health in its budget. Coverage under the Act for mental injuries only exists in three specified situations; it is therefore not treated equally to physical injuries. This paper will explore some of the reasons for and against expanding cover for mental injuries in their own right. Ultimately, it will argue that legislative consistency and policy supports a change in the definition of personal injury to include ‘purely’ mental injuries, in order to ensure they are treated equivalent to physical injuries.

Keywords: ACC, mental injuries, nervous shock, christchurch terror attacks, welfare schemes for terrorism, welfare benefits

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Tyler, Rebecca, Mind over Matter: An Analysis of ACC's Treatment of Mental Injuries in the Wake of the Christchurch Terror Attacks (September 2, 2019). Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 19/2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3588061 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3588061

Rebecca Tyler (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington, Faculty of Law, Student/Alumni ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, Victoria 6140
New Zealand

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