ACC marks 30 years
Press Release 14 April, 2004
ACC marks 30 years
The Accident Compensation Corporation today marks 30 years of no-fault injury compensation in New Zealand.
Chief Executive Garry Wilson said the scheme was a prime example of "Kiwis helping Kiwis".
"The key thing that ACC has brought to New Zealanders is the absolute certainty that they are going to get looked after if they have an injury. This certainty has made a huge difference to New Zealand society," Mr Wilson said.
"In most other places you have to prove that someone was at fault before you get compensation. That was the case in New Zealand pre ACC," he said.
"ACC's a no-fault scheme and you are going to get compensation regardless of whether you are at fault or not.
"If you lose a leg because you are silly, you are still going to be looked after by ACC. Previously, you were on your own."
ACC's predecessor, the Accident Compensation Commission came into being on 1 April, 1974 following the groundbreaking recommendations of the 1967 "Woodhouse Report".
The 1967 Royal Commission was chaired by Sir Owen Woodhouse and was established to review the law relating to workers' compensation.
It went on to recommend that all injuries attract the same cover, regardless of whether they were caused on the roads, at work or at leisure and that New Zealanders exchange the right to sue for injuries caused by negligence for comprehensive, 24-hour no-fault injury cover.
In the 30 years since, ACC has become New Zealand's second largest funder of healthcare, spending more than $1 billion annually in rehabilitation services and treatments and $750 million on compensation.
Mr Wilson said ACC began life with some trepidation as there were no precedents anywhere in the world for the administration and funding that would deliver the promises New Zealanders had made to one another.
"To make the commitment sustainable – on such a scale and for such a time – means an equal commitment by ACC of 'doing it well' and doing it right the first time," he said.
Mr Wilson said ACC had renewed its focus on the three priorities established in the Woodhouse report: injury prevention, rehabilitation and compensation.
"New Zealand's injury rates have fallen and we now have around 35 percent fewer injuries resulting in a week off work than Australians," he said.
"We've got rid of a lot of delay in getting people to surgery, we've got very much better at injury prevention and we are getting to be a much smarter organisation that better meets the needs of all New Zealanders."