Policy positions


Telecommunications are a vital service for victim-survivors of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV), who often need assistance from their provider to retain a safe and affordable service. In contrast, communication services can also be used to facilitate DFV, which can lead to considerable consumer detriment. Current codes and guidelines do not effectively support and protect consumers or promote uniformity in the communications industry.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) recommends the Minister for Communications implement direct regulation via a service provider determination to support consumers affected by DFV.1 Protections for consumers experiencing or at risk of DFV must be enforceable via direct regulation noting the material risks to personal safety that consumers affected by DFV may face when their access to essential communications services is disrupted or interfered with.  

ACCAN’s purpose, as outlined in our Strategic Plan, is to work for “communications services that are trusted, inclusive, accessible and available for all.”

Our approach to priorities

ACCAN has revised the way in which we approach our policy priorities, in consultation with our members. Feedback from members supported a movement to setting out our enduring priorities, which reflect our long-term areas of policy focus, and more immediate proactive areas of policy focus or policy themes.

ACCAN has today released our Independent Plan Comparison Tool (IPCT) Policy Position. Developed in consultation with consumers and other stakeholders, this position outlines the rationale for an IPCT for the telecommunications sector. 

The IPCT should:

ACCAN has today released our Retail Registration Position.

Developed in consultation with consumers and other stakeholders, the Retail Registration Position outlines how a telecommunications registration scheme administered by the ACMA could be implemented.

Carriage Service Providers (CSPs) in Australia do not currently need to register or apply for a licence to sell services before entering the telecommunications market. Without minimum standards for market entry, it is difficult to prevent non-compliance and consumer detriment due to CSP conduct before it occurs.

Community Position on the Public Procurement of Accessible Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

ACCAN and a consortium of Disability and Consumer Organisations are calling for a whole-of-government policy for the procurement of accessible information and communications technology (ICT).

Public procurement of accessible ICT, across all levels of government, will ensure that all Australians are able to participate and benefit from our growing digital economy.

Now that the NBN has been declared built and fully operational, ACCAN has examined what needs to be changed in the telecommunications sector in order to protect consumer interests and maximise the benefits of broadband in the future. Underpinning this analysis is the shift in the way consumers use and rely on broadband services. Telecommunications is now widely regarded as an essential service, and so consumer protections and safeguards must be brought in line with this way of thinking.

ACCAN’s purpose, as outlined in our Strategic Plan, is to work for “communications services that are trusted, inclusive, accessible and available for all.”

In 2022-23 ACCAN will focus on the following priority areas, informed by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and natural disasters on consumers’ use of communications services and the need for accessible and easy-to-understand consumer education and information about communications issues. At the same time, we will be responsive to emerging issues, and engage with government and industry consultations in areas of significance for communications consumers, including the converging areas of media, broadcasting and digital platforms.

Our policy priorities are developed in close consultation with ACCAN members and are informed by our knowledge and analysis of the communications market.

ACCAN has today released our Priority Assistance Position statement.

Designed in consultation with consumers and other stakeholders, the Priority Assistance Position outlines consumer expectations for a new, whole of industry approach in the provision of Priority Assistance services. This new approach would see Priority Assistance services which offer consumer choice, provide robust service continuity requirements, reliable interim, or back-up services and expanded eligibility with streamlined approval procedures.

Australia’s current voluntary, Code-based Internet of Things (IoT) regulatory framework offers consumers minimal protection, and there are limited market-based incentives for Australian IoT device manufacturers to fill this void.

Australian consumers need an enforceable Internet of Things regulatory framework that relieves consumers of sole responsibility for their privacy and security and holds IoT device manufacturers accountable for the operation and outcomes of their products. This statement sets out key areas that ACCAN believes should be improved for an effective Australian Internet of Things regulatory regime.

Towards the end of 2019, ACCAN started thinking about what a fully accessible communications sector would look like. We wanted to develop a roadmap of shared goals to illustrate what is needed to ensure all people with disability in Australia have full and equal access to communications technologies and services.

In developing the roadmap, ACCAN sought feedback from a range of organisations supporting people with disability. We asked three key questions:

  1. What communications issues do people with disability currently experience?
  2. What communications issues might people with disability experience in the future?
  3. What approaches could help address these existing and anticipated communications issues?

ACCAN believes that everyone must have equal, reliable and appropriate access to the emergency call service (Triple Zero) from a range of devices. Our position is that people should be able to use SIMless phones to genuinely contact Triple Zero as needed.

Proposals to reduce non-genuine calls to Triple Zero have included barring calls from SIMless devices. There are several situations when calls to Triple Zero appear to come from SIMless devices. ACCAN recommends more research into whether devices without SIMs represent a high proportion of all non-genuine calls made to Triple Zero.

Parts 7 and 8 of the Telecommunications Act ensure that broadband networks operate in a similar way, and to the benefit of consumers. They require network operators to offer services to any retail providers on request (offer open access on a non-discriminatory basis) and that they must be operated separate to the retail level (wholesale only). The ultimate aim is to ensure competitive networks exist that benefit consumer by increasing choice of retail providers.

Since 2012 Telstra has had an exemption from complying with these requirements in its South Brisbane Velocity network area. Other areas of Telstra’s fibre Velocity area are also exempt. These are scattered across the country, predominantly in areas of medium density population, including retirement villages, and greenfield developments (in Western Sydney, for example). These are areas populated with low income families, and older people on fixed incomes.