11 May 2021

ACC acknowledges commitment to Māori health outcomes with proposed new strategy

12:27 pm on 11 May 2021

ACC is laying down a commitment to transform and improve Māori health outcomes through their proposed new strategy, Whāia Te Tika.

ACC Building

ACC chief customer officer Emma Powell says the organisation wants to listen and address Māori health outcomes. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The strategy seeks to engage with Māori to provide culturally and clinically suitable services with a "by Māori for Māori" approach.

According to statistics from ACC - the Accident Compensation Corporation - Māori contributed to 26 percent of active sensitive claims and 24 percent of the active serious injury claims.

On top of that - and despite making up 16.6 percent of the overall New Zealand population - Māori were under-represented when it came to laying claims.

ACC acknowledged that its research had shown Māori were increasingly vulnerable when it came to accident and injury compensation.

"Māori are more likely to sustain a serious, life-changing injury while facing barriers to accessing our support," it said in a statement.

The new strategy will focus on working alongside Māori and engaging with kaupapa Māori providers to develop kaupapa Māori health services.

That would be to ensure Māori who experienced an accident or injury could access better services through ACC.

Chief customer officer Emma Powell said ACC wanted to listen and address Māori health outcomes.

"We recognise that within tikanga Māori, there exists the capacity for the creation of transformative programmes," Powell said.

"We are also working to improve access to rongoā services that incorporate a holistic, kaupapa Māori approach to wellbeing that includes ā tinana (physical), ā wairua (spiritual), ā hinengaro (mental and emotional), ā whānau (family and social) wellbeing."

Dr Matire Harwood

Dr Matire Harwood. Photo: Supplied

Papakura marae health clinic GP and University of Auckland associate professor Dr Matire Harwood said the new approach from ACC was a great step as the current system was not working for Māori.

"This is an exciting time for ACC, never before have we seen any sort of major shift in the way ACC delivers care to Māori," Harwood said.

The high accident and injury rate was often due to the the environment where whānau Māori lived and worked - and access to services like ACC.

That included submitting sensitive claims which some Māori didn't feel approachable due to the nature of the injury, whether it be child trauma or abuse of some sort.

"They have never felt safe to mention the injury... and they've carried that burden for many many years.

"It's not until they've had a kaupapa Māori service, someone who is willing to spend the time with them, listen to their story, listen to their pain, their mamae that they actually feel safe enough to disclose that information."

It was key that care Māori received was evidence based and monitored to improve rehabilitation, Harwood said.

Also important was ensuring services were driven by indigenous knowledge and matauranga Māori.

It was critical that there was enough funding, too, she said.

"ACC needs to ensure they have a true partnership in the design of these services, that they're driven from whānau, hapu, iwi up, rather than from ACC down," Harwood said.

Powell said ACC was committed to developing new prevention approaches that were designed and delivered by Māori, for Māori.

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