• Marie Hasler
Associate Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Good morning everyone.

As Associate Minister for ACC, it gives me great pleasure to be here today at the opening of this Cavit Rehabilitation Centre in Lower Hutt.

I would like to say a special welcome to Mr Max Cavit, the driving force behind this special rehabilitation centre; Raewynne Graf, manager of the new centre; kaumatua Leo Waikari, Ted Puhia and the welcoming party; staff, patients, family and friends and also my parliamentary colleagues. (Peter Dunne, Ruth Dyson and Philida Bunkle)

As most of you will be aware today's opening is made more significant because this week is Head Injury Awareness Week.

This year more than 30,000 New Zealanders will suffer from some form of head injury - 10,000 serious enough to warrant admission to the Intensive Care Unit at their hospital.

The incidence of traumatic brain injury is closely linked to the number of motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, 70 percent of the brain injured are male and under 30, a figure closely aligned with the statistics of car accidents.

With this in mind I support the Police who have this week asked all motorists to drive with the headlights of their vehicle switched on.

No doubt you will all have heard or read about the changes to ACC that came into effect last week on 1 July. While there have been some significant changes to how the accident insurance scheme operates, ACC's main priority has not changed.

This priority is to ensure that injured New Zealanders get the best of treatments available and as quickly as possible, to see them return to work or independence as soon as practical.

One of the ways in which ACC facilitates this is through supporting initiatives such as Cavit rehabilitation. ACC spends over $12,000,000 million annually on brain injury acute treatment rehabilitation. Some $2,777,000 is spent on acute care and $9,349,000 on ongoing rehabilitation.

Today there are several brain injury rehabilitation centres operating in New Zealand. However, it is through the Cavit Rehabilitation Centres that special attention is being given to our young people with brain injuries.

ACC supported the first Cavit Rehabilitation Centre when it opened in Auckland three years ago in Mt Eden. Another opened in Swanson in West Auckland in 1997.

The Auckland centres have treated numerous young people with head injuries, giving them special care and rehabilitation in a sympathetic environment.

There is no doubt that Max Cavit is a man with vision. Mr Cavit has been involved with the Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington for many years and is well respected for his work in helping others.

As most of you are aware when Mr Cavit saw many young brain injured people being cared for in rest homes or geriatric hospitals he decided to do something to improve their situation.

Fortunately today's medical advances allow people who have been seriously injured a high chance of recovery, whereas just 20 years ago these same people would have died from their injuries.

Advanced rehabilitative techniques mean many New Zealanders who suffer head injuries can expect a quicker recovery. But while these treatments are invaluable, they are processes.

What Cavit rehabilitation offers head-injury patients is an atmosphere, where they not only receive the requisite treatment from trained and dedicated specialist staff, but they also receive it in a positive user-friendly environment.

The young people who are rehabilitated at the two Cavit centres in Auckland, and from today, this centre in Lower Hutt, can rightly expect to receive the treatment that will facilitate their recovery in surroundings that also enhance their quality of life.

These Cavit clinics are tailored to meet the needs of their patients. Patients can interact with their peers and have their particular social needs met. I have no doubt these surroundings, as well as the effective treatments being offered, will assist patients' recovery.

Whether patients are receiving long-term care, or whether their treatment comprises daily or weekly visits to the clinic, whanu, family and friends and the patients themselves can be confident the treatment environment has been designed with young people's needs in mind.

With ACC's support, the opening of this Cavit Rehabilitation Centre in the Wellington region means young people, who have suffered a head injury, will no longer have to travel to Auckland to receive special treatment.

Although the centre is currently in temporary premises, it will soon be housed in its own purpose built home. I look forward to seeing the new clinic when it opens in its permanent location.

I am very pleased to be here today to formally open this Cavit Rehabilitation Centre. I invite you all to show your appreciation to Mr Max Cavit and to all those who have been involved in the opening of this most worthwhile initiative.

Thank you.

NB: ABI is Acquired Brain Injury