Concerns were consistently raised in relation to funeral insurance products, access to superannuation benefits and entitlements, consumer lending and banking fees and practices. Another primary issue of concern was access to financial products and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including the complexity and language barriers associated with product design and disclosure statements.
Issues about superannuation products for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were explored during Round 5 of the Commission’s hearings.
Language and cultural barriers, including increased difficulty in navigating complaints and dispute resolution processes, are some of the issues that were identified by submissions as arising from remoteness. Of the small number of submissions received by the Commission in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers, very few indicated that they had made a complaint about the conduct or that any action was taken in response to the matter.
During the Commission’s public hearings, Senior Counsel Assisting referred to complaints received by ASIC in relation to issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with many made by stakeholder networks of indigenous consumer advocates, financial counsellors, community legal centres, and other government agencies. Primary areas of concern raised in complaints referred to by ASIC included:
- inappropriate sale of funeral insurance policies;
- difficulty accessing superannuation;
- access to ADIs; and
- excessive bank fees and charges, including ATM fees.