Financial Rights Legal Centre
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Policy & Law Reform

Financial Rights Legal Centre: Policy and Campaigns Strategy 2016-17

Mission Statement:

We are a community legal centre that specialises in helping consumer’s understand and enforce their rights in relation to financial contracts, especially low income and otherwise marginalised or vulnerable consumers. We provide free and independent financial counselling, legal advice and representation to individuals about a broad range of consumer financial services issues (such as credit, debt, banking and insurance) and we advocate for law reform and government policy development that benefits consumers in these areas.

Top Five Policy Priorities

  1. Debt Management Firms

Our aim is to combat the detriment to consumers caused by largely unregulated businesses like credit repairers, personal budgeting services, debt negotiators and debt agreement brokers through increasing consumer awareness of the free alternatives, advocacy and law reform.

  1. Insurance claims handling

Insurance claims handling practices and investigations continue to be a major source of consumer complaints. We believe that both the life and general insurance industries must act to improve their standards of conduct in claims handling and must inform their customers of their rights and responsibilities during the claims process. We also support stronger regulation to ensure effective consumer protections are in place.

  1. Insurance Product Suitability

We remain concerned with the large number of insurance products being sold to consumers that are unsuitable for their needs. This is arising because of poor disclosure, exploitative sales practices, and a lack of genuine dialogue with a consumer regarding their actual needs. We will work to improve industry practice whether through legislated suitability requirements, enhanced codes of practice or other regulatory instruments to ensure consumers are purchasing appropriate products to meet their needs and insurers are appropriately marketing, selling and issuing products.

  1. Payday Lending and consumer leases

Reducing the widespread use of expensive short term lending has long been a priority for Financial Rights. We intend to encourage greater enforcement of responsible lending for pay day loans and consumer leases. We also want to work towards greater public awareness of the financial hardship that relying on payday lenders and consumer leasing arrangements can cause.

  1. Motor vehicle dealership finance and sales practices

The sales driven culture of motor vehicle dealerships has led to systemic unfair and exploitative practices including high interest loans, high broker fees and high pressure sales tactics particularly with respect to add-on insurance products. Financial Rights will work to identify and promote effective law reform, promote greater compliance with responsible lending laws and support improved consumer awareness of the pitfalls of motor vehicle purchases.