Friday 28 Apr 2017

Chair's report - April 2017

By: Julie Barrow

Congratulations to everyone who contributed to the inaugural Rank the Telco report. The collective voice of our sector has spoken loudly in highlighting the poor practices within the Telecommunications industry.

The report highlights that a mobile phone needs to be seen as an essential service and crucial to financial inclusion. It is also concerning to see that people are being placed into hardship when signed up to products that are not “fit for purpose” or affordable.

The overall results showed that financial counsellors clearly ranked the performance of telcos less than the energy and banking sectors in the areas of communication, assistance provided, client outcomes and a lack of understanding by telecommunication providers of long term hardship.

The financial counselling sector will continue to advocate and work with the main telcos, the regulator and ombudsman to find solutions to model best hardship practices for all consumers.

Thank you to our members for contributing on behalf of your client’s experiences. Without your views and comments (over 530 comments) this would not have been possible. A special thanks to Carlos Proveda, FC at Anglicare Western Melbourne, for asking a client, Vicky, to share her story. Without this, we would not have received the coverage in the press. Even the Prime Minister was asked about the survey.

Thanks also to Lisa Farrance (who developed the Survey, conducted and evaluated the results), and Caitlin Whiteman (author of Rank the Telco), the Rank the Telco Reference group, the staff at FCRC and ACCAN (who provided the project funding).

In finishing, I also note the four year rollover of funding for Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) funded agencies which will provide security to both local communities receiving these services and Financial Counsellor’s working in these roles. We are extremely grateful to the Minister, Marlene Kairouz, and Consumer Affairs Victoria for this announcement, and for increasing funding for each position. We look forward to the State budget to learn the outcome of funding to the ten family violence financial counselling positions.

The CAV funding FCRC receives has been rolled over for 12 months while a review of services provided will be undertaken by CAV. FCRC have welcomed this review and will work closely with CAV to ensure the best outcome for our members.