New measures aim to protect Indigenous Australians from scams

A new three-year action plan has been released that aims to deliver fairer credit contracts, consumer leases and sale of motor vehicles for Indigenous people.

The Australian Government has released the National Indigenous Consumer Strategy (NICS), which focuses on consumer issues that concern Indigenous Australians, with particular focus on scams and housing market discrimination. 

The 2017–2019 action plan, which is the fourth iteration of the Taking action, gaining trust plan, was created by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Indigenous Consumer Action Network (ICAN), and other state consumer affairs agencies.

The three-year plan will target a range of consumer issues affecting Indigenous Australians, including:

  • Scam practices, with a focus on improving consumer awareness of scams;
  • Trading practices, with a focus on door-to-door and telemarketing;
  • Consumer-directed care, focusing on the NDIS and increasing consumers’ awareness of their rights;
  • Motor vehicles, focusing on consumer and dealer rights and obligations;
  • Financial services, focusing on credit contracts and consumer leases; and
  • Building agencies' capacity to engage and communicate with Indigenous consumers and their advocacy groups.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard commented: “The rules that regulate traders and service providers need to be fair and responsive to the needs of Indigenous people. The ACCC looks forward to working with other NICS members to deliver the priorities in the action plan.

“Our challenge in the next three years is to deliver real results through the NICS Action Plan. It’s a challenge we’re proud to be part of and eager to take on.”

ASIC said it would be targeting "unscrupulous traders in these priority areas" and build on the work it's been doing in this area.

ASIC deputy chair Peter Kell said: “The rules regulating businesses need to be fair and responsive to the needs of Indigenous people.

"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.”

Mr Kell added: "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.” 

The NICS is effective in all Australian territories and states.

[Related: Indigenous home ownership rates improving but still low: Census]

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Annie Kane

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