A shooting victim suffering such severe post-traumatic stress she cannot leave the house alone, has had her ACC support cut as the agency says she is ready to return to work.
Ashley Moore, 19, now vomits after being in public and takes up to 11 different pills a day, after a pellet tore through her cheekbone when she was shot in January last year.
The incident happened at the Hataitai Velodrome, as young people gathered and a gun was passed around.
After the shooting, Ms Moore was pushed to the ground, her head was kicked twice and her cellphone was stolen. She needed surgery for her injury and was in hospital for three days.
"If it hadn't been for her chubby cheeks, she wouldn't be here today," her mother Sharon Moore said.
As a result of the shooting, Ms Moore had lost peripheral vision in her right eye, which disturbs her balance, has very little sense of taste or smell and gets frequent "piercing" migraines.
Anxiety set in when she tried to go back to her automotive engineering course four weeks after the incident, she said. "I just can't do people."
The problems had been getting progressively worse without treatment, she said. She had a few sessions with an ACC-registered psychologist who took her to the velodrome and left her. After the traumatic experience, she refused to go back and ACC had not provided a new counsellor.
A few months ago a man followed Ms Moore from a bank, before trying to drag her into his car.
Last month, a man was acquitted of her shooting when it could not be proven he pulled the trigger.
These events had deepened her anxiety and depression, she said. "I was the most bubbly person, laidback, could handle anything, take anything... then this happened."
Mrs Moore said her eldest daughter, who had been "our loud, funny one", could not be left alone and she feared for her future.
Though ACC acknowledged Ms Moore's post-traumatic stress disorder in May, which warranted a payment of $400 a week, they had now told her the payments would cease. This was despite a medical certificate from Ms Moore's GP, who had treated her since she was two, stating that Ms Moore would not be fit to work until at least mid-August.
ACC spokesman Laurie Edwards said Ms Moore could qualify for counselling, but a review last month by ACC doctor David Waite, who saw her once in September 2009, said it was best Ms Moore returned to work.
It was illegal to pay her when she did not need it, Mr Edwards said. "It's not just because of the legal thing, but because... it might actually be good for her to re-engage with normal life and normal society."
Dr Waite's review was based on his September consultation and the February review of Auckland psychiatrist Pieter van der Westhuizen, who Ms Moore met at the airport after he flew in for the appointment.
Mental injuries did not get worse, Mr Edwards said. "Post traumatic stress disorder... doesn't [just] go away or come back." Her physical injuries were no longer major, and counselling support was "not off the table".
Ms Moore was entitled to a review of ACC's decision.
I cannot even tell you how angry this is making me. I'll state upfront that I don't exactly have a stellar opinion of ACC to begin with, but the callousness with which this girl is being treated is making me absolutely sick to my stomach.
I just watched someone high up the ACC totem pole state that Ashley needs to "get up off the couch" on the news. Because, you know, she's clearly sitting at home watching daytime soaps and sucking up ACC's oh-so-precious money all day.
The fact that they are stopping her payments seems to mean that they expect her to go back to full-time work. Can someone please explain to me how they can think that someone who is clearly not recovered from her accident could be considered ready to go back to work fulltime? In my job, I constantly deal with employees who are eased back into work due to injuries that don't allow them to work eight hours a day. Why is this not being considered a viable option for Ashley?
And New Zealand? I am just as disappointed in you. They are sending in comments saying she should "build a bridge and get over it", "if you can be on Campbell Live you can be working", and of course, the requisite Won't someone please think of the taxpayers!
I can see exactly where this is going to go: if Ashley can't go back to work, she'll have to try and get on the unemployment benefit. Work and Income will say, No, you can't hold down a job because of your PTSD, you need the sickness benefit. Then they'll decide she's not eligible for the sickness benefit because PTSD isn't a "real" sickness that prevents you from working.
Is this really the way we want our government supporting people who, through injury, illness or accident, are unable to fend for themselves?