National | ACC

New research reveals higher injury costs and lower ACC coverage for older Māori

A new study by Waipapa Taumata Rau, shows the ACC claim rate for Māori over the age of 50 was 46 per cent lower than their non-Māori counterparts, yet they had a higher average cost per claim at $1,700 compared to $1,200 for non-Māori.

The study analysed Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) data from the Bay of Plenty and Lakes Taupō and Rotorua area, between 2014 to 2018.

Auckland University researcher Dr Joanna Hikaka (Ngāruahine) wondered whether this indicated inequities in ACC resources supporting older Māori.

“Older Māori were less likely to have ACC claims made and accepted than non-Māori and that could be for a number of reasons. That could be that past experiences of accessing health care have meant Māori are less likely to access care for injury, it could be the difficulties of navigating the ACC system and It could also speak to the fact that Māori might have really good whanau and other support networks,” she said.

Dr Joanna Hikaka (Photo: Supplied)

Hikaka wants there to be more awareness and transparency over how people can access ACC.

“[It should] also invest in kaupapa Māori injury prevention and injury care services so that Māori can experience injury prevention and care models that align with their values and take a holistic approach to injury care.”

The team that did this research is also working on another study that asks older Māori how they would like injury care provided.

“What koeke and whānau said was that, they really wanted injury care to be holistic, so there was a lot of focus on the physical recovery and that was really important.

“What was often missed, and this was particularly relevant for serious injuries or injuries that caused negative impacts over a longer period of time, that aspects around hinengaro and mental health, their wairuatanga and also their connections to whānau and wider support networks were really affected and that injury care really needed to think about all of those components.

“The other thing was that people expressed difficulties accessing and navigating ACC systems and how there was real need for advocacy and navigation supports,” Hikaka told Te Ao Māori News.

ACC had early access to the paper.

Although ACC was available to everyone, ACC deputy chief executive Andy Milne acknowledged everyone didn’t have equal access.

He said ACC was aware of the lower claim rates among older Māori and was “actively working to address this.”

“One of the key priorities of ACC’s 10-year strategy is achieving equitable access to services and improved outcomes for all New Zealanders. Our strategy is based on a dual-framed approach, which specifically recognises the need to address inequities for Māori.

“We have a number of initiatives that recognise the need to offer a choice of support services that reflect tikanga Māori (Māori customs) and te ao Māori to uphold our responsibilities to Māori under Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” Milne said in a statement.

He said that in 2023, the government required ACC to report annually on access to the Accident Compensation Scheme, focusing on Māori and other groups who might not be using the services they are entitled to. They are expecting to provide the first report to the minister of ACC in the second half of the year.

According to Milne, ACC also has a strong focus on preventing injuries among older New Zealanders.

“Our Live Stronger for Longer programme focuses on preventing falls and fractures for people aged 65 and over. Through this we fund community strength and balance classes for older New Zealanders. For those who can’t attend an in-person class, we launched the Nymbl app in 2023 which combines brain games and body movements to challenge both the brain and body.”