Carmel Sepuloni isn't going to fix ACC | The Jackal

1 Nov 2021

Carmel Sepuloni isn't going to fix ACC

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is meant to be a no fault no blame system, and was initially designed to help people recover by providing the medical assistance they require. If injuries are long term, ACC is meant to support the disabled person financially with up to 80% of their previous weekly income as compensation.

However ACC no longer meets this brief. Considerable changes have been made over the years to ensure the Ministry makes a substantial profit by declining long-term claimants. They do this by making incorrect determinations and employing corrupt specialists who receive bonuses for misdiagnosing patients, basically because they no longer have any compassion for other people.

It’s not just ACC specialists who’ve got a vested interest in removing injured Kiwis from their books though. The entire organisation is geared to refusing long-term claimants, which usually means injured or disabled people don’t get the care they require. ACC does this primarily by declining claimants and then using incorrect diagnosis. However they also use the legal system to ensure most claimants, particularly those without resources, simply give up.

But that’s not the worst of it. ACC also deters claimants by ensuring that their privacy is breached, which is a further calculated attempt to dissuade Kiwis from making claims.

Today, the Otago Daily Times reported:

The hastily announced independent review into the management of Accident Compensation Corporation data and client information needs to do much more than skim the surface of the organisation’s culture.

Fourteen employees (including two in the Dunedin office) were stood down last week for alleged breaches of privacy.

The allegation from a whistle-blower that some Hamilton call centre staff were sharing details of client’s injuries and making fun of them in a private Snapchat called "ACC whores" was shocking.

This news came hard on the heels of concerns from clients and their advocates about too many staff having access to sensitive claims information, a concern echoed by some staff. Acting chief executive Mike Tully was quick to defend that situation when the concerns were brought to his attention, rather than stand back and reassess whether the way the claims were being handled was truly in the best interests of the claimants. It was not a good look, compounded by the later revelation, the result of a parliamentary question, that 1414 staff have access to sensitive claims.

Should the investigations into the privacy breach allegations confirm the bad behaviour, the temptation will be for the organisation to see those involved as bad apples.


Unfortunately the entire organisation is a rotten apple.

Prior to the change in Government, research showed that the claims process discriminates against woman, Māori and Pasifika people. This forced the new Minister, Carmel Sepuloni, to request a briefing about ACC’s dysfunction.

Earlier this year, ACC’s own analysis confirmed that the organisation was racist, sexist and ageist as well as discriminatory against people who are injured at birth. They were also found to be more prejudiced against certain occupations, namely those predominated by women.

Since then nothing has really changed. In fact ACC is still the same sick puppy it always was under the previous National Party Government.

Clearly making jokes about sensitive claims is one thing, but creating an entire Snapchat group called ‘ACC Whores’ so your fellow staff members can laugh about people’s injuries is entirely unacceptable. This all shows that there must be a thorough review of the culture at ACC, and in order to do that, a new Minister is required. Carmel Sepuloni has had long enough to fix what is still a terribly broken system.