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Does ACC system provide access to justice asks UN

Does ACC system provide access to justice asks UN

The United Nations Committee responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ("CRPD") has formally raised access to justice and other issues with the New Zealand Government. The Committee considered a report submitted by Acclaim Otago, prepared with the generous support of a shadow report grant from the New Zealand Law Foundation.

The Committee of disability experts met in Geneva last week for a pre-sessional working group. The Committee has prepared a list of issues which will form the basis of the Committee’s examination of New Zealand’s compliance with the Convention in September 2014.

The Committee has selected the most pressing issues around access to justice from Acclaim Otago's report and the New Zealand Government must now prepare a formal and detailed response on these issues for the Committee's consideration. The Committee's question to the New Zealand Government on this point was.

Please explain whether New Zealand law provides access to justice for persons with disabilities engaged in the statutory dispute resolution process with regard to adequate funding, procedural fairness and reliable evidentiary procedures under New Zealand’s Accident Compensation scheme.

"Acclaim Otago is delighted that the Committee has heard the voices of people with disabilities covered by ACC. The United Nations Committee has taken our report seriously, and we hope the New Zealand government will now do the same." says Dr Denise Powell, one of the co-authors of Acclaim Otago’s report.

"ACC was designed as a system to provide access to justice for all New Zealanders. We can now have a debate about how access to justice for people covered by ACC can be improved. The aim is to reconstruct ACC into a world leading personal injury system that actually does what it was designed to do." Says Mr Warren Forster, the main author of the report. He continues, “This is the first step in re-orienting ACC towards respect for the human rights of people with disabilities.”

Other issues raised by Acclaim Otago have been incorporated into the list of issues including the way the New Zealand Government engages with people with disabilities covered by ACC and the actual level of employment for persons who are exited from the ACC scheme after being assessed as able to work full-time.

"Now that these issues have been raised, we need to understand the scale of the problems within the ACC system. Acclaim Otago will seek public input into the issues next month." Mr Forster says.


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