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Financial complaints by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples up 13%

Australian Financial Complaints Authority 2 mins read

There has been a significant increase in the number of complaints made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Australia’s financial dispute resolution scheme.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) received 2,523 complaints from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the 2022-23 financial year, a rise of 13 per cent on the previous year.

Overall, AFCA received nearly 97,000 complaints in 2022-23, in banking and finance, investments and advice, insurance and superannuation. This was a rise of 34 per cent and a record number of complaints.

About 3 per cent of those complaints were submitted by people who self-identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The three products most complained about by First Nations people were personal transaction accounts, personal loans and credit cards. The most common issues were unauthorised transactions (including scams), delays in insurance claim handling, and service quality.

More than one in 10 complaints submitted by First Nations peoples were about financial hardship. This compares with one in 20 involving hardship for AFCA complaints overall.  

“The fact that there are more than double the proportion of complaints about hardship among First Nations peoples is of great concern to AFCA and we call on financial firms to do more to address this,” AFCA’s Deputy Chief Ombudsman, Dr June Smith, said.

“We encourage firms to be more proactive about identifying First Nations customers in hardship and working with them to alleviate their financial problems.”

Dr Smith added that there was still significant work to do to improve financial inclusion for all First Nations peoples. “First Nations peoples should be served by organisations that are culturally aware and engaged in culturally sensitive practice.”

Dr Smith said AFCA continued to review its own performance against this goal.

With regard to financial hardship, AFCA prioritises vulnerable complainants and provides them with additional assistance to make the complaint process less stressful, she said. “We encourage people to indicate when lodging a complaint that they may need flexibility with the AFCA process – such as longer deadlines – if they are experiencing difficult circumstances.

“People can appoint a representative – whether that’s a friend or family member or a financial counsellor – to walk alongside them during the process,” she said. AFCA could also provide referrals to other free community support services.

AFCA's dispute resolution service is free for consumers and small businesses. Complaints can be lodged online, by mail or via a free call to 1800 931 678.  

Note to editors: More detail is available in AFCA’s Annual Review.

Key Facts:

·       AFCA received more than 2,500 complaints from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

·       This was up 13% on the previous year

About us:

About AFCA - The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is a non-government ombudsman service providing free, fair and independent dispute resolution to individual consumers and small businesses when they are not able to resolve complaints directly with financial firms in banking and finance, insurance, investments and advice, and superannuation. AFCA aims to help the parties reach agreement, but it can issue decisions that are binding on financial firms. 

Contact details:

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