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IRD & Self harm / suicide threats

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 24 October 2014 - 04:17 PM

Self-harm threats soar for those who owe IRD
Last updated 05:00 08/10/2014

Taxpayers, some facing crippling penalties, are increasingly threatening to harm themselves when dealing with the taxman.

According to official Inland Revenue figures, the number of its clients making "self-harm" threats in the past five years has nearly tripled.

There was a six-fold increase in offensive behaviour towards staff and the amount of money outstanding on child support rose by more than $1 million.

The department is enlisting Lifeline to look at how it deals with distressed callers and staff facing abuse.

The figures do show a positive - online compliments have more than tripled in five years.

Inland Revenue commissioner's correspondence manager, Christina Goodall,
said the leap in self-harm figures could be because of "increased awareness" among staff.

Taxes and social-policy debts could cause "significant distress", and options such as instalment payments were available.

Debts could be wholly or partly wiped in hardship cases, she said.

"Offensive behaviour" cases - which jumped from 24 five years ago to 156 last year - included rude gestures, intimidation, harassment, and intoxication.

In the five years, eight clients were trespassed from the department's offices for aggressive or threatening behaviour.

Inland Revenue spokesman Rowan McArthur said staff were dealing with suicide threats as well, citing the case of a Christchurch collections officer who last month received an award for their dealing with a child-support caller who discussed suicide.

The team leader then called the customer to check on him, McArthur said.

"[The customer] said he wanted to thank our person for taking such a caring approach and restoring his faith in human nature and in a government department."

Allan Harvey, from the Union of Fathers
, said the figures did not show the number of fathers who skipped New Zealand to avoid mounting child-support debts.

One father, whose child had lived with him in Australia for the past six years, recently received a $139,000 child-support bill.

Most of that was in penalties because late payments incurred a 10 per cent penalty, plus 2 per cent more each month, or 38 per cent a year.

Subsequent years had another 2 per cent penalty a month, equating to 27 per cent a year.

The department could often be talked into dropping penalties, if people knew to ask, he said.

Changes in the pipeline next year for child support would make things "slightly better".

"The penalty puts people off and drives people overseas."

Among those changes, late-payment penalties will be slightly eased.


Lifeline: 0800 543 354 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 - Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.

Tautoko: 0508 828 865 - provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (noon to midnight)

If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111

For information about suicide prevention, see

- The Dominion Post

#2 User is offline   Marc 

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Posted 25 October 2014 - 12:10 AM

Like with the increase in reported "threats" and so that have occurred at WINZ offices, I think all this raises serious questions about service delivery, and about the way "clients" or "customers" do get treated these days. Listening to the government, and the heads of departments and Ministries, it sounds almost, as if they want us to believe, that so many more people are just downright BAD people. If that is supposed to be so, why have so many people turned BAD then, I wonder? Even the PSA and their president or chairperson, Mr Waghorn, sounds almost like a government spokesperson, lamenting the bad treatment public servants are getting.

Why does nobody in the media dare to ask the simple question, why this whole stuff may actually be happening, and what may be the reasons for it?

Oh no, we cannot do that, the public servants are all dedicated gentlemen and ladies, only having our best interests and utmost high quality treatment on their mind. I am getting tired of reading these media reports, and all this doom and gloom and lamenting.

For me the reasons is clear, the supposed "better public service" we are supposed to be getting, does not quite look like being "better" when at the receiving end, at least in an increasing number of cases. Cost cutting, streamlining, more "efficiencies", more technology and less face to face contacts, that demands a price to be paid, and that is, less humanity, less human interaction, less humane service, I fear.

The bean-counters run the show now, with the technocrats and "ueber bureaucrats", and for them we are all just numbers, that also have to fit their expectations. Full steam ahead into the Orwellian Future, which is at least half way here already.

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