The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has today announced the establishment of its Consumer Advisory Panel and a commitment to consult with consumer advocates on all major initiatives it undertakes.
The AFCA Consumer Advisory Panel will provide insights and analysis on strategic and policy issues, as well as highlight emerging issues facing consumers.
The Panel consists of 10 leading consumer representatives and is chaired by Peter Gartlan, who was previously the Executive Officer for the Financial and Consumer Rights Council and on the board of the Consumer Action Law Centre.
AFCA Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman David Locke said the Panel would provide important insights on issues and ensure consumer needs were being met.
"AFCA exists to deliver fair solutions to financial disputes, to provide access to justice for consumers and small business owners, and to work with industry to improve its practices and minimise disputes arising in the first place," Mr Locke said.
"We are committed to providing an excellent service to all consumers and we can only succeed with this if we understand the differing needs that our customers have.
"Consumer organisations see thousands of people every year and have unique perspectives that can help inform AFCA's work.
"AFCA is a new organisation and open feedback is important as we continue to improve our processes and services.
"We have ensured that we have selected Panel members who represent the community we serve, including older Australians, Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders, vulnerable communities and those with financial difficulties."
The Panel will meet quarterly in different locations across Australia. The Panel will meet for the first time on 29 March in Melbourne.
"AFCA already holds regular forums with the financial services industry and it is important that we also hear the consumer voice," Mr Locke said.
"In addition to this Panel, AFCA will hold sessions in capital cities across Australia with frontline staff and financial counsellors who work in law centres and other not-for-profits.
"We will also run open sessions for the public as part of a national roadshow over the next 12 months."
AFCA Consumer Advisory Panel members
- Peter Gartlan, Consultant (Chair)
- April Blair, Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW
- Gerard Brody, Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Action Law Centre
- Karen Cox, Coordinator, Financial Rights Legal Centre
- Anne Crouch, Manager, Uniting Country SA
- Aaron Davis, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Indigenous Consumer Action Network
- Tony Devlin, Territorial Coordinator Moneycare, The Salvation Army
- Fiona Guthrie, Chief Executive Officer, Financial Counselling Australia
- Paul Holmes, Senior Lawyer, Legal Aid Queensland
- Gemma Mitchell, Managing Solicitor, Consumer Credit Legal Service WA
- Sonia Vignjevic, Victorian State Director, Settlement Services International