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Controller and Auditor-General Report Into ACC

Controller and Auditor-General Report

Acclaim support networks throughout New Zealand note the recent report issued by the Controller and Auditor-General into the case management of claimants by the Accident Compensation Corporation.

The Controller and Auditor-General is an officer of Parliament.

Inter alia, we note the following from the report;

"Other case managers prepare an individual rehabilitation plan, and then send a letter that outlines the content of the plan and ask the claimant to sign a final decision letter."

We also found instances where the content appeared to have been copied, with little to differentiate them in detail from other plans."

"It is also sometimes offered on a 'take it or leave it' basis, along with the reference to statutory consequences (suspension of weekly compensation) of non-compliance with ACC directions."

The report recommends that; - "ACC ensure that all case managers tailor the content of each individual rehabilitation plan to the claimant's rehabilitation needs."

We make the point that this recommendation is in fact the law but it is, and has been, flagrantly disregarded.

The consequence for the claimant is that they have not, and are not, received their full measure of rehabilitation entitlements as assessed to be needed. This practice makes each claimant a mandatory stereo-type.

Indeed, even the proper assessments are not being conducted and claimants have been removed from the scheme before receiving rehabilitation as required in the Section 3 Purposes of the Act and elsewhere throughout the Act, including the Section 6 definition of "Individual Rehabilitation Plan" and "Rehabilitation."

It is clear that rehabilitation plans of this nature are fundamentally flawed and are not sustainable.

There is also evidence that even after signing and agreeing to an Individual Rehabilitation Plan the claimant does not then receive the services as agreed in the Plan which is contrary to Section 76 (4) of the Act and the Section 3 Purpose of the Act.

It has taken the Auditor-General to publicly highlight issues.

It is therefore very concerning to the Acclaim network and to individual claimants that District Court Judges and Review Officers' in this jurisdiction have not earlier picked-up on, and rectified, this matter.

It would therefore appear that claimants who have not received the proper measure of rehabilitation or even assessments to determine their needs but have, nevertheless, been removed from the scheme, could now apply for special leave to appeal to the High Court to have those decisions reviewed as a question of law.

Obviously, this will create a great deal of use of scarce personal and Court time and resources while the matters go through the process.

There are also issues surrounding the failure to observe the principles of natural justice by case managers when they make both administrative and entitlement decisions. This infringes Section 27 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 to which ACC is bound. The Auditor-General did not refer to this matter in his report.

In the circumstances we again request that the Select-Committee conducts an inquiry into the issues and receives and examines the Auditor-General's report in that context.

ENDS

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