9 comments on “Government agencies use ‘incompetent’ counsellors to assess recidivist drink drivers

  1. I cannot see how you can blame the assessor for an increase in reoffending. It could be that those who are ordered by the courts to have an assessment are more likely to reoffend to begin with and that is why they have a tougher sentence.


    • I am not blaming the assessor. I am blaming the Ministry of Health and the NZTA for allowing unregistered incompetent counsellors to conduct these assessments and for failing to check on their qualifications.


      • Yes, but you are not comparing apples with apples, when you claim that: “If alcohol and drug assessments were being done by experienced and suitably qualified professionals, these offenders should re-offend at a much lower rate than those who do not need to be assessed.”

        Roger’s response:
        Drink drivers who are assessed are being compared with drink drivers who are not assessed. They’re all drink drivers (or apples). What is being discussed is the impact of assessment (and treatment) on subsequent re-offending rates. If assessment/treatment is done well, perhaps it would turn rotten apples into carrots.


  2. Dear Roger,

    I appreciate the value of your presence on the AoD scene, especially since meeting you in Dunedin. We need independent commentaries to help keep things honest. I hesitate therefore to criticize, but I wish you would provide more evidence for some of your conclusions.

    The fact that a counsellor fails to renew his registration with DAPAANZ does not itself mean he is incompetent. I do not know the counsellor you mention, but naming him in this fashion without more detail seems brutal. There does not seem to be any evidence in your blog actually tying him to getting drunk drivers back on the road, and your follow-up comment that you do not blame the counsellors seems to contradict the earlier piece, where you name and blame an individual.

    Secondly the the statistic quoted later in your piece – that assessed drivers re-offend more that unassessed drivers – is predictable, since the former group are likely to have more serious offense histories. That 68% of this group do not re-offend is actually a very positive statistic.

    Yours respectfully,

    Seān Manning
    Registered Psychotherapist
    Registered AoD Counsellor


    • Sean, you assume that these AOD counsellors simply failed to renew their registration. That’s not correct. Most of them never applied to DAPAANZ in the first place – when the regulations were changed five years ago. My conclusion is that more than half of counsellors doing assessments for Land Transport are not qualified to be doing them. I can send you the list of names of 50 unregistered counsellors if you like…

      Whether these counsellors are incompetent is a moot point. But they not competent as far as DAPAANZ is concerned. ‘Not competent’ and ‘incompetent’ are two ways of saying the same thing. But this article is not about the counsellors – its about the Ministry of Health failing to do its job.

      In regard to your second point I disagree that it is predictable that assessed drivers will reoffend at a greater rate. That implies assessment and treatment is a waste of time – and/or that the assessors are incompetent.


  3. I am not so much interested in apples and apples, as the main issue, being unskilled AOD counsellors, let loose on unsuspecting clients, who may believe they’re in competent hands.
    My concern is not only for the vulnerable motorists but also, whatever happened to the fundamental taught to all practioners from day one- “Do No Harm”


  4. Roger is assuming quite reasonably that a competent assessor would not allow those drivers back on the road – the fact that the assesors are allowing them back pretty much proves they are incompetent!


  5. Surely it makes sense for the Ministry of Health to enforce their own guidelines? It is important that assessors are competent, belong to an organisation with a code of ethics and are accountable for their practice. If they’re not, it makes it an uneven playing field for those who do ensure they belong to a professional body, have paid their annual subscription and diligently earned the required one hundred points.

    Would you consult any other health care practitioner that was unregistered? Thanks for bringing this to my attention Roger, as I had no idea that this was happening, why would I? I had a letter from the MOH towards the end of the year, reminding me of my annual requirement to furnish proof of my ongoing registration and updated details of my business.


  6. Thank you Roger regardless of anyone’s view you have once again alerted us to the lack of accountability in regard to the use of our taxes. I for one think it is abhorrent that counsellors who do not meet criteria or do not have the relevant qualifications have been paid for conducting these assessments. This must be addressed.


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