UN response satisfies

Dunedin ACC campaigner Dr Denise Powell feels ''great'' satisfaction that a United Nations committee is raising with the Government several disability-related issues highlighted by Otago ACC claimants.

It was ''surrealistic'' that an ACC claimant support group, Acclaim Otago, with almost no funds had produced a well-researched report that had been ''taken seriously'' by the UN committee, Dr Powell said.

The UN committee responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had recently formally raised access to justice and other issues with the New Zealand Government.

That committee had earlier considered a report submitted by Acclaim Otago, prepared with the ''generous'' support of an $8650 shadow report grant from the New Zealand Law Foundation, Dr Powell said.

Such ''shadow'' reports are often produced by community groups, rather than by government agencies.

The UN committee of disability experts met in Geneva last week for a pre-sessional working group and another report from a New Zealand disabilities organisation had also been considered.

The committee had prepared a list of issues which would form the basis of its examination, in September, of New Zealand's compliance with the convention.

The UN group had selected the most pressing issues around access to justice from the Otago report and the Government now had to prepare a detailed response.

The committee had asked the Government to explain ''whether New Zealand law provides access to justice'' for people with disabilities engaged in the statutory dispute resolution process under the ACC scheme.

This was with regard to ''adequate funding, procedural fairness and reliable evidentiary procedures''.

Dr Powell, a co-author of Acclaim Otago's report, said the claimant group was ''delighted'' that the ''voices of people with disabilities'' covered by ACC had been heard.

The report's main author, Warren Forster, of Dunedin, said New Zealanders could now debate how access to justice for ACC claimants could be improved.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz


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