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Petition aims to overturn ACC law

Petition aims to overturn ACC law

The National Foundation for the Deaf today launched a fight to overturn a law that stops many people seeking ACC rehabilitation for noise injury having claims heard on their merits.

The NFD is circulating a petition nationwide seeking support to overturn the law setting a threshold for hearing damage before claimants can be covered by ACC.

The law, part of the Accident Compensation Act which came into force on July 1, means people with noise-damaged hearing must have a total loss of at least 6 percent before ACC will accept a claim and give rehabilitation. This means cases are not judged on the person’s needs.

“Noise usually attacks the high tones of our hearing which we use to understand conversations at work and at home,” NFD chief executive Louise Carroll said.

“We have to lose a lot of hearing in those tones to reach a 6 percent total loss, and the impact on our lives can be serious.

“The NFD, along with the rest of the hearing disability sector, told the government the threshold was wrong and would create serious injustice, but the government ignored us all.

“The law is wrong, it is unfair, it is discriminatory, and it must be changed. We are asking all New Zealanders, but especially the thousands with hearing loss, to support this petition.”

Mrs Carroll said the NFD wanted ACC to go back to judging each case on its merits, rather than according to a formula.

She said that while the average age of people lodging claims with ACC for noise-damaged hearing was 70 for men and 69 for women, the issue was not just one for older people. “This affects everyone who works in a noisy environment,” she said.

“The 6 percent threshold is just one of the hurdles people with noise injury now have to face, and it has to be changed.”

The petition will be promoted by organisations in the hearing disability sector including audiologists and the Hearing Association, as well as those representing people affected by noise damage, and organisations in the health and disability sector.

(Ends)

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