Insensitive treatment of ACC clients who have had their privacy compromised is evidence of a culture of complacency and should be included in the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation, the Green Party said today.
Green Party ACC spokesperson Kevin Hague has received numerous calls to his office this week from ACC clients who said their distress had been compounded by insensitive, unhelpful treatment from ACC when they called with queries.
“The indifferent experience people are having when they call ACC about the privacy breach is compounding their distress and indicates a need for widespread cultural change at ACC when it comes to handling confidential information,” said Mr Hague.
“I’ve had upset calls from ACC clients claiming they’ve had pre-written statements read to them whether they’ve wanted to hear them or not. Some have asked to speak to managers and had this opportunity blocked.
“One person reported that ACC told them yesterday that the breach only included names and addresses and they would have received a phone call by now anyway if it had involved them. This was incorrect on both counts.
“Claimants who are already in an anxious state, are feeling that their concerns are not being taken seriously, and that ACC lacks a professional understanding of the importance of confidentiality and the consequences of it being breached.”
Mr Hague was concerned that ACC, with a track record of repeated breaches of privacy, has yet to implement even basic data protection mechanisms. This is particularly the case for sensitive claims, where there have been fresh revelations that details of sexual abuse and violence have been routinely shared with ACC staff outside the Sensitive Claims Unit.
“Sensitive claimants have often had to overcome huge barriers to sufficiently trust ACC to make their claims,” Mr Hague said.
“That trust has been horrifically betrayed and ACC shows no sign at all of understanding that or its implications for the therapeutic process.
“A positive outcome from this latest privacy breach would be recognition from ACC management of a cultural problem within their organisation and the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation needs to add rigour to the way ACC handles sensitive information.”