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Why this service is created

Find out more about why we have been established

We need a free nationwide advocacy service

In 2017, the Dean Report reviewed dispute resolution within the ACC system in New Zealand. This led to significant discussions and actions regarding the improvement of the ACC dispute resolution process.

Miriam Dean KC's independent review was prompted by a report from the advocacy group Acclaim Otago, which highlighted issues in the accident compensation resolution processes. Dean's review involved extensive consultations, including more than 50 interviews with various stakeholders such as lawyers, advocates, medical organizations, and ACC officials.

One of Dean's key recommendations was for ACC to establish a free advocacy service to improve client experiences. The New Zealand Law Society welcomed the government's announcement to address all recommendations in Dean's report.

The report was seen as an important step in ensuring access to justice issues around the ACC process were addressed and resolved. The government deferred the establishment of a stand-alone Accident Compensation Appeal Tribunal for three years to allow time for improvements resulting from the independent review to be implemented, which might reduce the need for a tribunal. The tribunal idea was shelved by the new government in 2018.

However, ACC did not fully implement all recommendations, choosing instead to offer a service aimed at helping people understand ACC processes, rather than providing advocates to act on clients' behalf. This approach drew criticism from some academics and lawyers, who felt it would not adequately address the issues identified by Acclaim Otago.

Despite initial optimism, the service established by ACC attracted fewer clients than expected and struggled to reach key target groups, including Māori, sensitive and serious injury claimants, and those with literacy issues. The service providers also found the complexity of cases challenging, leading to a limited ability to assist clients effectively. Over the past few years, further changes have been made to address these issues, but the access to representation barriers remain.

The situation demonstrates the complexities and challenges involved in reforming a system like the ACC's and highlights the ongoing efforts to enhance the dispute resolution process within it.

Regardless, the need for an advocacy service remains and that is why we have been created.

Dean Report
1.28 MB PDF - independent-review-acclaim-otago-july-2015-report-acc-dispute-resolution.pdf