The ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) is denying support to people with noise damaged hearing if the person's total hearing loss is less than 6% with its enactment of the Accident Compensation Amendment Act 2010.
This is despite evidence showing total damage of much less than 6% having a serious impact on the professional and social lives of those affected. Noise damage typically attacks the high tone area of our hearing that is critical for deciphering speech, especially in everyday environments.
The changes remove professional discetion from assessments, and the new law declares that hearing damage below this threshold is not an injury
The "hearing sector" is united in its opposition to the threshold, with the National Foundation for the Deaf, the Hearing Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Audiological Society, the Human Rights Commission and manufacturers and vendors joining other professionals, including university researchers and groups like Age Concern in protesting via submissions to Parliament's Transport and Industrial Relations Committee in November 2009.
An information paper outlining the key issues the hearing sector raised is available here.
In June 2010 NFD also lodged submissions in response to the proposed regulations to operationally implement the law change. Read these here.
In October 2010 NFD completed a position paper for Members of Parliament on the changes to the ACC legislation. The paper has been prepared collaboratively with contributions from all perspectives of the hearing impaired sector, and gives precise and credible information on how these changes have impacted on consumers with noise induced hearing loss (sound injury deafness). Read the report here
You can support our concerns by writing to the Minister of ACC, Dr Nick Smith, or to the National Foundation for the Deaf, who will pass your concerns on to the Minister. Many people have already written to the Minister opposing the regulations. Read article here
Green Party calls for independent review of ACC changes. Read more here
Read Louise Carroll, our CEO's, letter to John Key dated 22 July 2010 on the issues Half a Hearing Aid Won’t Work.
After the general election 2008 the NFD compiled a briefing paper for the incoming ministers. Click here