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ACC claimants loos out

ACC claimants loos out

ACC is breaching its claimant code of rights by not providing public toilets in its branches, the Greens say.

“It’s completely heartless not to provide claimants, many of whom have physical disabilities, with toilets,” Green Social Services Spokesperson Sue Bradford said. “In many cases, these people have to clamber several hundreds of metres to relieve themselves.

“ACC’s claimant code of rights includes the ‘right to be treated with dignity and respect’. Forcing injured people who are waiting in ACC offices or taking part in several-hour-long meetings to go in search of toilets in such places as service stations and fast food outlets is a clear breach of this right. It is completely demeaning for claimants and potentially harmful to their health.

“We think ACC could and should provide toilets in all its branches for claimants to use. This would be a first step towards treating people with greater respect.

“Some claimants have injuries which mean going to a public toilet is traumatic enough. That ACC exacerbates this problem by not providing toilet facilities beggars belief. Other claimants need disabled or wheelchair-accessible toilets, and it’s unreasonable for ACC to think that such toilets will always be nearby.”

ACC Minister Ruth Dyson, responding to a written question from Ms Bradford, has said that ACC branches don’t have lavatory facilities available for public use: “For security reasons, the use of staff lavatories by claimants is discouraged,” Ms Dyson wrote. “Standard practice is to direct members of the public to the nearest public facilities.”

But Ms Bradford said this practice was completely unacceptable.

“We accept that there might be security issues which make it unadvisable for claimants to use staff toilets. If that is the case, then ACC should provide public toilets in all their offices. This seems like the obvious thing to do, and any refusal by ACC is a simple case of mean-spiritedness and penny-pinching.”

Ms Dyson wrote that while ACC takes into consideration the availability of public amenities when considering where to set up new branches, it holds no information about the distance between branches and the nearest public toilets.

Ms Bradford said this was simply not good enough.

“If ACC actually looked into the issue adequately, it would find that many claimants have had to walk considerable distances to use the loo.”

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