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“Do injured Kiwis get access to justice?” asks Acclaim Otago

28th May 2014

“Do injured Kiwis get access to justice?” asks Acclaim Otago

Acclaim Otago Inc has prepared an online survey for injured New Zealanders. The survey aims to capture the extent to which ACC claimants get access to justice and the protection of the law.

“The UN has asked about access to justice for injured New Zealanders. The Government will respond to the UN based on what the Government knows – but to accurately answer this question, the Government needs to hear from injured kiwis. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard. The survey will directly inform our report to the United Nations.” says Warren Forster, the lead author of Acclaim Otago’s report.

The United Nations will be examining the New Zealand Government about whether its laws and policies comply with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in September this year. A key right under the convention is the right to access to justice. Every ACC decision on a claim entitles the claimant to a right to review that decision. The Committee of experts responsible for administering the Convention met in Geneva in April 2014. In response to Acclaim Otago’s interim report, they asked:

“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.”

Denise Powell, spokesperson for Acclaim Otago says “Many people tell us about the experiences they have when they challenge ACC decisions. It’s important to remember that every New Zealander has the potential to be an ACC claimant, and in fact there would be very few New Zealanders who have never made a claim for ACC entitlements. This survey offers a meaningful way for people to tell their stories so we can present a comprehensive shadow report on behalf of all New Zealander4es” Dr Powell concludes.

“Effective access to the dispute resolution process under the ACC legislation is an essential part of checking that ACC is getting it right. It’s also a fundamental measure for ACC to check that it’s making decisions properly”. Mr Forster says. “A judge was recently able to say that even a casual glance at the ACC 167 form indicated it went well beyond ACC’s legal authority. Perhaps that decision would have come sooner if ACC claimants had better access to justice.”

The NZ Law Foundation provided a grant to assist with costs of this shadow report and Acclaim Otago is now fundraising through the online donation portal Give-A-Little www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/UNProject to gain the extra funds needed to send representatives to Geneva for the September session.

The survey will be online for a two week period, from 28 May to 13 June 2014.

www.surveymonkey.com/s/accesstojusticenewzealand

Acclaim encourage all New Zealanders to have their say via the survey, “This is a terrific opportunity to have your voices heard” concludes Dr Powell.

ENDS

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