What are the odds? The week that I'm holidaying here in Christchurch someone decides to lock themselves up the top of the Cathedral in the centre of the city. I did walk past the church mid Thursday afternoon, seeing both TV news networks setup, and wonder why a banner was hanging from the look out:
The protestor was Neville Toohey, and the banner he was hanging was publicising his website - screwedbyacc.co.nz. Neville's beef is with the ACC; his major issue is they have declined his claim for back surgery.
His cause is perfect for receiving sympathy from the average Joe Blogs. The big ogre Goliath (ACC) vs the small and helpless David (Toohey). It would be very easy to paint ACC as the faceless, uncaring corporation trying to squash the little guy. Everyone will rally behind the under-dog.
Toohey brilliantly caught all our attention through a very simple and cheap act - sit in a very visible (and reasonably inaccessible for the Police) part of town with a banner redirecting people to a website with more info - he could've easily capitalised on this, but I feel he's failed to realise the full potential of his cause.
His website reads as a random ramble of information. There's no details about his specific injury, or the steps he's taken to engage the ACC over his issues - all the information I've read about his case is through the media, why is it not coming straight from the horses mouth? Where is the link to donate to his cause? Why are there not quotes from others wronged by the "evil" ACC?
The media he has been so successful at capturing seem to be now working against Toohey, as they are reporting that ACC have been more than accommodating:
"Mr Toohey's clinical records showed back-related issues from before this ACC claim, and the nature of the incident he claims caused this injury was simply `bending over'."
She said the ACC told Toohey he had the right to a free independent review of its decision, but did not accept in the three-month time frame.
When he did request a review about eight months later, he did not appear in person or make submissions, she said.
"Accordingly, his request for a late review was declined by the independent reviewer."
I'm not picking on Toohey - his claims seem valid, and he does seem to have a warranted claim with the ACC - I do wish him the best. My thoughts are that he was successful in getting the nation's attention through a unique means and that it's a pity he didn't do a better job at the follow through.
(Final thought: if you were planning a 24 hour sit in, anywhere, why would you not pack some basic food and water supplies?)
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