Hot Issues

Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Privacy Awareness Week (29 April – 5 May) is an annual event during which the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities join forces to remind everyone to take steps to protect their own privacy and safeguard personal information about others that they might hold.

“Privacy is recognised in many countries, including Australia, as a human right,” says Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. “Serious consequences can arise when someone’s privacy is breached and we all have responsibilities to look after the personal information we handle.”

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ACCAN was honoured to receive the 2011 Organisation of the Year Award at the Australian Sign Language Interpreters’ Association (ASLIA) NSW & Deaf Australia (NSW) awards ceremony held in Sydney on Saturday April 21.

As an organisation ACCAN is committed to accessibility issues and we are fortunate to have two specialist disability policy advisers on our team. ACCAN is dedicated to ensuring interpreters and captioning are available at all our public events, that our website is WCAG 2.0AA compliant. We also make information available in Auslan, audio formats and Easy English wherever possible.

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A record 76 groups and individuals applied for a total of $250,000 in funding in the 2012 round of the ACCAN Grants Scheme, which closed on April 2.

ACCAN Research and Grants Officer Robin McNaughton said this year’s applications were of a very high standard and a great mix of projects targeting a diverse range of consumer issues.

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In very good news for people who are Deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired, the National Relay Service (NRS) has announced that callers to Triple Zero (000) using internet relay will receive queue priority. But while this update is a step in the right direction, many people with disability still can’t make emergency calls.

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For communications consumers, the challenge of overcoming information overload to choose a new product and service is sometimes just too much. As one participant in the Seeking Straight Answers research puts it, "[I just want] someone to do the work, someone who knows what they're doing to find me the best deal...There's so many things you've gotta do that the inconvenience of doing all that outweighs any benefits you're going to get".

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Complaints from small businesses about their telecommunications services increased 52 per cent in the last financial year, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reports in the latest issue of TIO Talks, published today.

More than 22,000 complaints were made in 2010-11 by small businesses unable to resolve issues with service providers. Complaints about inadequate or incorrect customer service advice, poor mobile phone coverage, broken promises and bill disputes were the most common issues.

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The 2012 Round of the ACCAN Grants Scheme opens today with $250,000 in funding available for consumer-focused telecommunications research and consumer education or advocacy tools.

Now in its third year, the ACCAN Grants Scheme funds projects that help to work towards the organisation’s vision of affordable communications services for all Australians.

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If you have a problem with a mobile phone handset or other piece of telecommunications equipment don’t ignore it.

Under Australia’s new consumer laws, if you buy a product and it is faulty you have the right to take it back to where you bought it and ask the business to fix the problem. The same applies if you engage a service and it is not provided to an appropriate standard.

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ACCAN has today released new Grants Guidelines ahead of the opening of the 2012 Round of the ACCAN Grants Scheme on Monday 20th February.

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ACCAN is pleased to announce the appointment of two new members to its Standing Advisory Committees, Ms Karin Ness and Ms Catherine Clark. ACCAN has two Standing Advisory Committees: the Standing Advisory Committee on Consumer Affairs (SACCA), and Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (SACDI). The Committees' members provide guidance and expertise on current and emerging communications issues affecting consumers.

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Peak consumer body ACCAN says current and ex Vodafone customers will be left shaking their heads today when they discover that, 12 months on, the telecommunications regulator has let the provider off virtually scot-free for the widespread network, complaint-handling problems that plagued Vodafone customers last summer.

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 The ACMA Communications Report 2010-11 was released today. This major piece of research provides a snapshot of the communications services available and the preferences of Australian consumers. Here’s some key statistics that may be of interest to ACCAN members:

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