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Effective Rehabilitation Questioned

Effective Rehabilitation Questioned

More revelations in the media about "bizarre" practises within the Work Preparation Programmes used by ACC have prompted support groups to canvas members about their own experiences. Some are being asked to write their own epitaphs, some are being sent out on treasure hunts with the winners being rewarded with chocolate bars, some are asked to go out 'cold calling' for employment whilst still on 'Fully unfit for work" medical certificates. Where is the justification or accountability for the usefulness of these programmes?

ACC claims that some of the techniques used are simply trying to engage the groups. ACCLAIM says that if these programmes were designed to really rehabilitate injured people to the 'fullest extent practicable' they would not be required to 'engage' with a group. Rather they would be focussing on the specific needs and skills of the individual.

President of ACCLAIM Otago, Denise Powell, said "It is our understanding that some aspects of the courses are seen as useful but, by and large, the feedback has been that most participants feel intimidated and belittled. Several have had verifiable and documented aggravations of their injuries. To be treated as though all that is required is to learn how to present oneself at an interview, or to learn how to write an effective application letter is ignoring the fact that some people are able to obtain employment but are unable to sustain that employment for 35-plus hours a week due to the nature of their injury."

ACCLAIM Canterbury President Murray Jorgensen expresses similar sentiments adding that the true purpose of the Corporation's ill-conceived Return to Work and Work Preparation Programmes is to hoodwink claimants, reviewers and indeed even the courts into believing that it is now OK to exit the claimant because "vocational rehabilitation has been completed".

"Such programmes", Mr Jorgensen says, "should be implemented only after a claimant has received meaningful, genuine training/retraining, i.e. has been rehabilitated to the maximum extent practicable provided for by legislation - not to some low-paid, low-skilled, low-paid, soul-destroying, non-existent job. The reality is that no long-term claimants are currently receiving retraining if they are unable to return to their former occupations and all who do have the gall to request training are turned down flat."

Meaningful rehabilitation should be individually tailored to maximise that person's particular circumstances. "All New Zealanders were entitled to real rehabilitation as part of the deal when they gave up the right to sue. The current legislation allows for up to three years vocational rehabilitation but unfortunately ACC seems to find six-week group courses preferable." Ms Powell said.

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