The CEOs of ACCAN, the South Australian Council of Social Services (SACOSS), and Financial Counsellors Australia (FCA) have sent a joint letter to the major political parties calling for an urgent review of the Centrelink Telephone Allowance (CTA). See below for a link to download the letter that was sent to the political parties.
The letter is accompanied by a preliminary data briefing report by ACCAN and SACOSS on the adequacy of the CTA, based on a survey of 523 low-income Australians. The survey found that many low-income consumers are struggling to pay their telecommunications costs, and that the CTA is not adequate to alleviate this financial difficulty. As a result, the report recommends that all parties and candidates in the Federal Election:
- Recognise that in the digital age the CTA is not fit for the purpose of providing access to affordable telecommunications for all Australians; and
- Commit to reviewing and updating the CTA to ensure affordable telecommunications for all Australians in the digital age.
A media release was issued regarding the report. The data briefing report is one part of a larger research project on the affordability of telecommunications for low-income consumers, for which a full report will be issued in coming months. The project will also look at the extent and impact of the communications poverty premium for low-income consumers, and whether common billing methods (such as direct debit and 28 day billing cycles) are compounding difficulties in maintaining connectivity.