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ASIC: Commits to new Action Plan delivering better outcomes for Indigenous Australians

29 Sep 2017

Media Release

Consumer issues including car sales, credit and consumer leases headline some of the key priority areas in the National Indigenous Consumer Strategy (NICS) Action Plan 2017–2019.

The three year plan covers a range of consumer issues facing Indigenous Australians which fall within ASIC's remit, including credit contracts, consumer leases and the sale of motor vehicles.

NICS members including ASIC, ACCC, State Fair Trading and Consumer Affairs agencies and the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) work together to ensure that issues affecting Indigenous Australians are given a priority within each of their agencies and organisations.  “The rules regulating businesses need to be fair and responsive to the needs of Indigenous people," ASIC Deputy Chair Peter Kell said.

"This Action Plan will help deliver fairer outcomes for Indigenous people and we look forward to working collaboratively with other NICS members to deliver real changes for Indigenous consumers.”

"The Action Plan will build on the extensive work of our Indigenous Outreach Program, ASIC's team dedicated to working on Indigenous consumer issues which has recently had significant success in the areas of motor vehicle finance, consumer leases and book-up."

“Our challenge in the next three years is to work strategically with partners across a diverse range of industries to make the NICS Action Plan a reality—it’s a challenge we’re eager to take on," he said.

The full National Indigenous Consumer Strategy Action Plan 2017–2019 is available here.

Background

Consumer Affairs Australia New Zealand (CAANZ) endorsed the three-year plan, which sets out the following priority areas:

  • Trading practices with a focus on door-to-door and telemarketing
  • Scam practices with a focus on improving consumer awareness of scams
  • Housing with a focus on discrimination laws, particularly in the private market
  • Consumer-directed care focusing on the NDIS and increasing consumer awareness
  • Motor vehicles focusing on consumer and dealer rights and obligations
  • Financial services focusing on credit contracts and consumer leases
  • Building agencies capacity to engage and communicate with Indigenous consumers  and their advocacy groups
  • The promotion of NICS and broader Indigenous consumer issues.

ASIC intends to target unscrupulous traders in these priority areas to build on work it's been doing focusing on indigenous consumers. For example:

  • Motor vehicles - Cairns-based car yard lender and broker breached consumer credit laws (refer: 16-335MR)
  • Consumer leases - Consumer leasing company to pay $1.25 million in penalties (refer: 15-349MR)

In 2002 senior officials of the relevant agencies now known as the Consumer Affairs Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), organised  a number of workshops  in response to concerns about the disadvantages experienced by Indigenous consumers. Subsequently the concept of a national plan was developed which became known as the National Indigenous Consumer Strategy.

On 1 September 2005 all Australian governments signed a Statement of Commitment for the development and implementation of the inaugural National Indigenous Consumer Strategy Action Plan 2005–10.

The Action Plans are revised every four years and have been continued to be implemented in all states and territories and positive progress has been undertaken by all consumer agencies. This Action Plan is the fourth iteration of the ‘Taking action, gaining trust’ National Indigenous Consumer Strategy.