Māori miss out on ACC treatments

By Tema Hemi

Unreported accidents mean that Māori are often missing out on vital ACC coverage. ACC have implemented the ‘Whaia Te Tika' strategy to ensure that Māori get the coverage and treatments that they need.

Speaking on the difficulties of dealing with ACC, Labour MP and former Black Ferns captain Louisa Wall said, "I know historically for a lot of Māori its really difficult to get into the system".

Māori have the smallest rate of ACC claims.  With a claim rate of 8% this does not always mean that Māori are any safer in the workforce or sports field.

ACC Chair of the Board Dame Paula Rebstock stated, "Māori take up ACC services at a lower level than the wider population. We have no reason to believe their injury rates are lower in fact in some injury types they may be higher."

Rebstock spoke of the determination of ACC to ensure that they can access their entitlements, but the elephant in the room remains why Māori are not accessing them.

Out of the 238,800 work-related injury claims lodged last year, the majority of those were from high risk industries such as agriculture, forestry, and fishing, all of which employ vast numbers of Māori.

Wall also said, "I think it’s about access, because if you can’t see a doctor to get a diagnosis or get referred to a specialist then it’s very difficult to have your problem determined and therefore what treatment options are available”.

Perhaps creating a Māori-centric working culture could be key to resolving this issue.

CEO of ACC Scott Pickering says, "From our perspective it is in some cases its education but it is also creating models that will actually fit for Māori as well. And we recognise the need to change".

Pickering also said, "Rehabilitation may not necessarily fit with Māori principles so we're just trying to be more flexible to allow greater access, and greater understand to drive better outcomes for Māori. And it is not something that is a one year strategy this is something that we must inbed, it must be authentic and it must be long term”.

Though ACC is optimistic and determined, there are some real obstacles ahead.

Associate Minister of ACC Willie Jackson says, "We've got a real lack of resources. I have already talked to my officials about a possible national hui in terms of Māori before the end of the year".

ACC staff are aware to activate the levers that bring out the strengths of Māori, so that they can advocate to whānau about what ACC offers.