Govt announces raft of ACC reforms to improve access

Source: 1News

The Government has today announced a range of reforms to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) to help improve access to eligible parties, including bringing forward the minimum rate of compensation.

ACC's own analysis has shown it is biased against women, Māori and Pasifika. A law change aims to address the problem.

The Accident Compensation (Access Reporting and Other Matters) Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament, Minister for ACC, Carmel Sepuloni, said.

“I’m proud to continue the Government’s work towards addressing inequities in accessing the Accident Compensation Scheme with this new package of reforms," she said.

“ACC is a valuable part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s social fabric, and helps to rehabilitate thousands of people each year, but we know that not everyone is able to access ACC equally."

The amendments package includes a duty for ACC to provide annual reports on how Māori and other population groups are accessing its services, as well as an amendment to ACC's purpose, broadening it from claimants include to all injured people.

It will also bring forward eligibility for the minimum rate of compensation to the second week of incapacity, down from the current six weeks.

“Bringing forward eligibility for the minimum rate will remove a financial hardship earlier in the recovery process, allowing people on low incomes to better focus on their rehabilitation," Sepuloni said.

The Amendment Bill is the second package of reforms to the Accident Compensation Scheme, which works alongside the Accident Compensation (Maternal Birth Injury and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2022, which passed in Parliament in late September.

Sepuloni said while the "drivers of access disparities are complex", the amendments to ACC "will provide more tools for them to understand how to address these inequities".

“The data collected from annual reporting will be invaluable in understanding who is accessing ACC and how and, even more importantly, who is not and why not," she said.

“It’s vital that we keep working to better understand why some injured people may not be accessing coverage, so we can make sure ACC is fair and fit for purpose for everyone.”

The legislation will now go to the Education and Workforce Committee for consultation and feedback.

"The Committee made an incredibly valuable contribution to the Birth Injuries and Other Matters Act earlier this year. I’m looking forward to their contribution on this new legislation," she said.