$10,000 goes to Acclaim

An Otago ACC support group has gained a $10,000 New Zealand Law Foundation award to prepare a report to the United Nations over claimed non-compliance with a UN Convention on rights of the disabled.

''What we're trying to do is to improve the outcomes for injured people,'' Warren Forster, a Dunedin-based advocate, said yesterday.

The support group, Acclaim Otago, recently received the annual Law Foundation Shadow Report Award, and this funding will be used to produce and present a shadow report to the UN on New Zealand's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, group organisers said.

New Zealand ratified the convention in 2008.

Shadow reports enable domestic organisations to draw attention to issues New Zealand has excluded from its formal report to the UN on its compliance.

The report will focus on experiences of injured New Zealanders, particularly privacy, access to justice, integrity of the person, and meaningful vocational rehabilitation.

An initial submission will be made by the Otago group about February next year, followed by a fuller report to the UN committee, presented about July.

Representatives from Dunedin, including Mr Forster and Dr Denise Powell, a spokeswoman for Acclaim Otago, are likely to make submissions to UN committee members in Geneva next September.

The group had several concerns, including over ACC 167, a form signed by ACC claimants which effectively removed their privacy rights involving medical information, Mr Forster said.

Acclaim Otago was involved in a ''David and Goliath'' struggle to ensure New Zealand fully complied with the convention, and receiving the award was ''very encouraging'', he said.

Dr Powell said by raising New Zealand's ''lack of compliance'', the group aimed to ''reform the law and improve the experiences and outcomes'' for people with disabilities caused by injury.

Law Foundation chairman Dr Andrew Butler said treaty monitoring bodies often expressed gratitude to NGOs for picking up domestic issues in shadow reports.

The foundation provided the award because ''we believe shadow reporting is a valuable contributor to the treaty monitoring process'', he said.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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