Claimants not informed of Right to Representation
Press Release - 13 July 2006
ACC Claimants not informed of Right to Representation
ACC does not inform claimants about their right to have a representative involved in preparing the Individual Rehabilitation Plan (IRP), as it is required to do under Clause 7 of Schedule 1 of the Act. ACC’s policy, as provided to me under the Official Information Act, is to tell the claimants they can have a support person “with” them.
There is a fundamental difference between having a claimant representative involved in preparing the plan and having a support person with them. A representative is advising the claimant and acting on their behalf, while a support person is providing moral support.
We see many rehabilitations plans that are woefully deficient and based on assessments that do not properly consider the claimant’s needs. ACC’s failure to tell the claimant about the right to have a representative involved in IRP preparation is disadvantageous to the claimant and the results of this can be seen in ACC’s own statistics showing Maori claimants’ early exit from the scheme - a symptom of a wider problem concerning many claimants.
IRP preparation is a prescribed process and many claimants are in need of an experienced representative who understands the legislation and the evolving case law. The rehabilitation plan is such an important document and rehabilitation needs to be planned very carefully. Otherwise, everyone involved is wasting their time and the premium payer’s money.
The misinformation ACC is currently providing claimants is an immediate concern. We consider ACC is in breach of claimants’ rights under the code and its current policy undermines the legitimacy of the rehabilitation process and its outcomes. Therefore, we ask ACC complies with the Injury Prevention, Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2001 by modifying its policy in regard to the information it provides to claimants about their right to representation.
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