Campaigner hopes for more trustworthy ACC

Denise Powell
Denise Powell
After lobbying hard for a better community feedback system, Dunedin ACC campaigner Dr Denise Powell is cautiously optimistic recent changes will help restore public trust in ACC.

Dr Powell, who is president of Acclaim Otago, an ACC claimant support group, said there had been an overall ''crisis of confidence'' over ACC's performance, including claimant privacy breaches, last year.

And two high-level independent reviews highlighted several weaknesses in ACC's handling of confidential information involving claimants.

ACC Minister Judith Collins last year urged the ACC board to give priority to rebuilding community trust and confidence.

Dr Powell is also a former long-serving member of ACC's national Consumers' Outlook Group (COG), which brings together consumer representatives and senior ACC officials.

Dr Powell said there had also been a high level of frustration within COG last year.

Several COG members felt they had been marginalised and COG had ceased being an effective group to raise consumer issues with ACC, she said.

Dr Powell and fellow member Pati Umaga had presented the case for reform and later held high level discussions with former ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart last year.

COG continues to exist, but its membership was recently changed significantly.

Dr Powell has left COG and joined a new Advocates and Representatives Group (ARG), recently established by ACC. Dunedin ACC lawyer Peter Sara is also a member.

The ARG group had met formally in February for the first time and she was cautiously optimistic the changes in public feedback arrangements would help restore confidence.

Glenn Donovan, an ACC senior media adviser, said ACC had recently broadened and strengthened advisory and representative groups that worked with ACC to provide a ''voice'' for all New Zealanders.

The ARG group would provide ''strategic and policy-level'' advice.

The ''breadth and reach'' of COG's representatives had also been expanded. Such groups were ''an important way of helping ACC improve our service'', he said.


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