Blow your own whistle

There has been a flurry of commentators and even the Minister for the ACC Judith Collins lining up to blame Bronwyn Pullar for her her actions, and suggest that she has not behaved responsibly.

Whistleblowers usually have to go through hell and back.  We even have laws in this country to protect them.  And don’t doubt for one moment that power will play dirty to protect power.   It didn’t take the spin machine of ACC and the National Government long to start suggesting that Ms. Pullar had behaved badly.  This despite the fact that hers was far from an isolated case, she claims (and we have no reason to doubt her) that she showed the full document to no-one, and removed and/ or covered all names before handing over to the media.  Sounds pretty responsible to me.

In politics I would guess they would consider it a “strategy” to turn the tables like this.  Psychologically I would call it “blaming the victim.”  Psychological injuries are very prone to this kind of invalidating and compassion-less response, the wound is invisible, and the person looks “fine”.

Anyone who has ever been through, or supported someone through, legal proceedings for rape or sexual abuse will know what I mean; the abuser blames the child for breaking up the family; the rapist blames the victim for leading him on and not being clear; society blames the woman for wearing too short a skirt or for acting irresponsibly (see Off the Couch: “Feminist sympathiser”)

It is irrelevant who Ms. Pullar’s friends are and what payouts she may or may not have received in the past.  If it appeared that this privacy breach was a one off mistake then her critics may have a case.  But what is already painfully clear is that it is not.  Today’s story from the Sunday Star Times calls privacy breaches within ACC “endemic:”

“The Sunday Star-Times found the privacy commissioner received 61 privacy complaints about ACC in the last year. Of those, 15 were found to have substance and were subsequently settled. One has been referred to the director of Human Rights Proceedings, who will decide if it will go to a tribunal hearing. The figures show ACC privacy concerns are endemic. There were 57 complaints to the commissioner in 2009/10 and 43 in 2008-09.

“I think this kind of thing happens a lot more than we know,” said counsellor and ACC advocate Ian Brown, whose clients include Garth Paul.”

I’m sure Ian Brown is right.  That’s why I think we should support Ms Pullar, and help ACC out at the same time.  Clearly their systems are in such a state they don’t even know how many privacy breaches may have occurred.  If you, or anyone you know has had their privacy breached at any point by the ACC, then I suggest you make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner, it will help them with the investigation.

It’s easy to do, the form is available here: http://privacy.org.nz/how-to-complain/

Given how much of a personal risk Bronwyn Pullar is taking, on all our behalf, it’s the least you can do.

Leave a Comment

  • Kevin Owen March 25, 2012, 12:36 pm

    It is a storm in a tea cup but that’s what sells papers. Look for the tea cup and see if you can create a storm in it. If anyone thinks ACC Systems are in a state, have a look at Trauma Services with all it’s useless assessments and diagnosing. It’s taken Ms Pullar 12yrs to try and get a workable handling for the trauma caused by the accident. That’s not because ACC, the system, want deliver it, It’s because those delivering Trauma Services [Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Counselors], can only counsel someone and hope they get over the trauma and if they don’t, to bad. If Nick Smith had known that he wouldn’t of gone out of his way to put a request on ACC letterhead for Ms Pullar, who is still not happy with the service. She is dangerous as a Whistleblower because she has and can expose the failed services of of ACC.

    Reply
  • Unicorn March 25, 2012, 2:25 pm

    Thankyou Kyle for all the hard work you are doing to help us. Go Bronwyn. Godbless you.

    Why are there always forms? Not everyone can do forms…and this is sometimes why not everyone gets their fair deal. They dont have a form big enough for my complaints!, so Ive sent it all off to the privacy commissioner as one great big email.

    Reply
  • Bob Stevens March 25, 2012, 2:29 pm

    As a young detective back around 1972 during a time I was having an issue with a bullying commissioned officer, a senior member gave me some very sound advice that I have since passed on many times. He said and I think this is quote-unquote, “The bullying bastards come and then they go so never let any of them make you be the one to go”. When looking back on the saga still unfolding of the changes made in 2010 to ACC SCU and the now entrenched implementation of the medical model, we saw a male staff member at ACC leading the charge backed up by the then ACC Chief Executive who was unquestionably acting under the sanction and direction of the Minister of ACC with them all as I perceived following an agenda that was unmindful to the hurt that was causing in our communities. Well the MP fell on his sword this week and the other two no longer hold those positions of power that turned everything up on its head. I am not saying there wasn’t a need to reorganise and perhaps weed out some dead wood but not at the cost to human dignity and callous disregard for victims of sexual crimes that ensued.

    I have a client who is one of those whose file was sent out to Ms Pullar. That person’s distress has been told to ACC in an email by the client to the claims manager and with a comment that ACC attempting to side track the issue by media statements about the culpability of Ms Puller only adds to the hurt the client is experiencing. The authority to collect information now almost mandatory for clients of ACC lodging claims for sexual crimes gives almost Carte Blanche license to gather and distribute information on clients. Seeking of medical records for some is an absolute no, no for fear that another family member in a discussion with the family GP may glean or be told inadvertently about a sexual abuse incident/s no-one else in the family has been told of so they refuse to sign the form and then get told without the information ACC require the claim cannot proceed. Most claimants especially those with historical claims never consulted a medical practitioner. Those fears are not unjustified and now exacerbated because of the revelation of what has happened recently and far too often in the past and for my client this is the second time she has felt betrayed because ACC some years ago posted to her information about the sexual abuse of another person.

    I have only respect for the claims managers I have dealt with since first becoming an approved ACC counsellor in 1993 and they deserve better than to now be the butt of everyone’s anger affected by this recent sorry state of affairs. An inquiry is long overdue.

    Reply
    • Off the Couch: Kyle MacDonald March 25, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Hi Bob,
      I agree. It’s a tired cliche, but this is a systemic issue. The individuals I have dealt with as case managers and many of the clinicians are good people trying their best to do a good job. They are as hamstrung by the system as we are. And the entire system, from the Board, through the senior clinical advisers who have driven the changes over the last few years need to be held accountable.
      Only an independent review will acheive this I believe.

      Reply
  • Unicorn March 25, 2012, 4:24 pm

    yes An INDEPENDENT review!

    Reply
  • Don Wood March 25, 2012, 4:45 pm

    With the current Government I tend to be very cynical. Very cynical indeed. It is just one step further for John Key or the “Honourable Minister” to say ACC is so dysfunctional that we have no choice but to privatise it. Watch this space!

    Reply
  • Unicorn March 26, 2012, 10:50 am

    That would be a really dirty tactic to shut us all up. I wonder where we would all stand legally on this? Would all the govts problems regarding the ACC debacle simply disappear? Would claimants with valid gripes that are waiting for justice just disappear?

    Reply
  • Maunga April 2, 2012, 3:58 pm

    My rapist was a PI & security guard who routinely stalked and harassed me by bugging my ph. & car. He also cultivated contacts in the police & IRD to gain private addresses for serving summons & debt notices. He made death threats against me at gunpoint so I have unlisted ph. numbers and am on the unpublished electoral role. Given his disregard for my rights and his history of unorthodox information gathering, I have every reason to be afraid he would gain access to my ACC details, so casually regarded by the ACC.

    In 2010 ACC unlawfully exited me from my physical claims because their paid specialist illegally accessed non-claim related health records from the hospital without my permission. ACC misused this information to justify their plan to disentitle me without rehab. ACC put the cart before the horse and blamed weight gain for my incapacity, tho the disability/incapacity caused the weight gain. I spent a year w/ my ph. & power & the heating needed to manage my disability removed. Then when I returned to 3 hours study a week, my SB was also cut & I was put onto $163 weekly student loan. Then HNZ threatened me every week w/ eviction for rental arrears.

    ACC’s behaviours caused me serious financial hardship. Reinstated, my troubles were not over. I had to pay back WINZ & Studylink (fair enough) & IRD double taxed me so my weekly compo arrears were less than $300 a week. Now HNZ are harassing me for over $9K for market rental arrears for the Accommodation Supplement I received during 2010 – 2011. Apparently I must pay that from the $292 a week cleared from ACC during that period. Market rent is $265 per week so I must find $200 a week for the 12 mths I was unlawfully kicked off compo due to privacy breaches by ACC’s specialist doctor. BTW the toady doctor was rewarded w/ $1500 from ACC, to impoverish me.

    Reply

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