While the Commission received a relatively small number of submissions from individuals identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, the Commission consulted widely in order to identify and understand the issues that arise for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their dealings with financial services entities.
These consultations included financial counsellors and lawyers from organisations across Australia who work closely with this group including staff from various regional offices of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA); Financial Counselling Australia; representatives of Save The Children in Katherine; the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN), including with financial counsellors who work with consumers on Palm Island; the First Nations Foundation; the Consumer Action Law Centre; the Financial Rights Legal Centre and NSW Legal Aid.
The Commission also sought information from ASIC’s Indigenous Outreach Program about what it considered to be issues of particular concern affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their dealings with financial services entities.
The concerns that were consistently raised included aggressive sales tactics, complexity of product disclosure statements and cancellation of policies or products and excessive fees for services in rural and regional areas.
As Senior Counsel Assisting noted in her opening address, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is as diverse as the broader Australian population, and not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in these communities will experience the same obstacles as outlined in the case studies.