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ACC Claimants Fundraise To Drive Inquiry

Howard's End

ACC Claimants Fundraise To Drive Inquiry

By Maree Howard

ACC claimants across the country are running their own fund-raising "Telethon" via the Internet, to gather funds for an independent inquiry after it was revealed by the Sunday Star-Times last weekend that ACC was compiling a list of angry and unstable claimants. Maree Howard writes.

Injured ACC claimants have started raising funds for an independent inquiry along the lines of the inquiry into ACC's procedures conducted by Former Chief District Court Judge Peter Trapski in 1994.

Judge Trapski produced a scathing report about ACC's procedures at that time and claimants now say that nothing has really improved and many say it has got worse.

So far, over $3000 has been raised in the "ACC Inquiry Telethon" and claimants plan to approach now-retired JudgeTrapski for recommendations and directions when the amount reaches $5,000.

An ACC Support-Group spokesperson told Scoop that Judge Trapski was a well-respected and learned judge "who obviously has a heart" and with great knowledge of ACC and its systems and procedures.

The Transport and Industrial Relations Select-Committee rejected earlier calls for an inquiry into ACC saying they were too busy.

Some members of that select-committee attempted to have the Social Services Select-Committee conduct an inquiry, but agreement could not be reached between the politicians and it has stalled since December last year.

The Auditor-General is conducting an inquiry into ACC's case management practices but claimants say the terms of refernece are too narrow to address the major concerns they have. There also fears that the Auditor-General does not plan to speak with any claimants.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Star-Times revelaed last weekend that ACC had compiled a list of alleged angry and unstable claimants with as many as 551 people already on it.

The ACC move has caused outrage in privacy and civil liberties circles.

Psychologist, Magaret Moon said "if there's no way for people to vent their anger without going on to the "baddies" list that's scary.

The newspaper reported that lawyer, John Edwards, who specialises in privacy law said the criteria was "outrageous" and raised human rights concerns as well as privacy issues.

ACC could be liable for damages if someone could prove they has suffered humiliation and hurt as a result of being on the list, the paper said.

ACC claimants are also outraged and say the subjective opinion of a case manager could decide what is or isn't bad behaviour, such as intimidation. Claimants say they are regularly subjected to intimidation, provocation and bad behaviour from ACC Branch and Case Managers.

The ACC Support-Group spokesperson told Scoop that claimants are also compiling a list of bad and unstable behaviour on the part of ACC employees and related people ACC uses.

So far, their list has over 60 names on it from across the country and when completed they plan to forward it to the ACC Minister, Hon Rught Dyson, ACC and to the media. They say the ACC employee names already on the list are those about which they hold an honest and genuine belief of bad and intimidatory behaviour towards them.

In 1994 the Judge Trapski Inquiry Report found the methods used by ACC and its employees in no way conformed with accepted principles of law; - there were confrontational and adversorial attitudes; - lack of empathy with people; - negative and perverse decisions; - an unhealthy readiness, almost a eagerness to discontinue compensation payments; - medical reports were ignored; - implied and explicit threats in phone calls and correspondence; - no recognition of the facts; - little knowledge and training in medico/legal matters; - reliance on flimsy evidence and; - selective about which reports were used

Claimants say that nothing has really changed since then with many saying it is worse.

They say the Code of Claimants Rights, introduced in February, may as well be consigned to the waste paper basket for all its helping. They say the Code is useless with any complaint decided upon by the same persons who were deciding on complaints previously and the same 1994 mind-set remains within ACC employees across the country. One said; "It's Iike the rat making its own poison."

On claimant wrote on the ACC Support Group message board that if ACC has to defend its staff from injured and disabled people, it suggests there is something seriously wrong and a real problem at case manager level and they are not suficiently trained to handle people who may have brain injuries along with others living with debilitating chronic pain 24/7.

He asked - "Why is it that throughout my long life I have never have any problem whatsoever with any other authority except ACC. There are simply too many complaints about ACC staff not to know there is a problem and alarm bells should have been ringing long ago at ACC's top management level."

Support Groups are also concerned that an ACC claimant who was Jewish, and learned that "lists" are being compiled when "list" were extensively used to exterminate Jews in Nazi-Germany, would likely find it deeply and culturally offensive. Jews across Germany and elswhere were taken in cattle-trucks to concentration and extermination camps after SS troops compiled "lists" and then hunted for those on it.

Claimants are not told they are on the ACC "list" and have to ask if they are, assuming they even know such a "list" exists.

Meanwhile TV3's 20/20 is to run an hour-long programme this coming Sunday about ACC entitled "Injury or Insult."

© Scoop Media

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