The ACC Futures Coalition has welcomed the new ACC Service and Purchase Agreement, saying that it represents a reasonable start to the rebuilding process for ACC but pointing out that there is much to be done and also areas that the new agreement does not address.
"We think that the Minister has set out some good first steps," said ACC Futures Coalition spokesperson Hazel Armstrong. "They should go a long way towards strengthening ACC as a public institution for the coming year. We welcome the emphasis on rebuilding public trust and confidence in ACC, but trust takes a long time to build and, as the corporation has just found out, can evaporate rather quickly. There is a strong focus on better service, which is important on a day-to-day basis, but better outcomes over a long period of time will be required to turnaround public perceptions."
"We are not convinced that this document will deliver that on its own. For example, there is nothing in here on the need to use independent medical assessors and the emphasis is still on getting people off the scheme using vocational independence rather than a genuine return to work. Both these factors have contributed to claimant disillusionment with the scheme and need to be addressed."
"The Agreement still also reflects the government's commitment to full funding and has artificially high asset targets for the work and earners accounts, both of which will contribute to higher levies," said Ms. Armstrong.
"However, there are other aspects that we see as very positive, including the commitment to more timely resolution of disputes and greater use of mediation without going to review. We welcome both of these moves."
"The next challenge for the Minister will come when she decides on the replacements for the board members who have gone, because it is the board that will have to interpret the agreement and ensure that it is applied. Will she appoint a board that reflects the broad range of stakeholders and interests in ACC or will she stick with those who understand the money side but not 'the broader responsibilities ACC has to all New Zealanders' as the Minister's press release put it? The initial response of Paula Rebstock today on Radio Live was not encouraging. All she seemed to want to focus on was the privacy question when the issues facing ACC go much deeper. We await the next steps with interest," said Ms. Armstrong.
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