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Providing a service with ‘extra care’

In response to recommendations made by the TIO’s Independent Review last year, the TIO have introduced a new ‘Hardship and Extra Care’ queue to improve the complaint handling process for consumers who need specialised support.

The new ‘extra care’ queue is designed for cases from consumers who are experiencing vulnerability. They may be affected by family violence, in financial hardship, or require extra care and sensitivity from us when discussing how their phone and internet problems impact their lives.

Some examples are consumers who:

  • are in financial hardship
  • are experiencing or at risk of becoming homeless 
  • have a disability (whether physical or neurological)
  • have learning difficulties or may be illiterate
  • have experienced a life event such as death of someone close, or they are affected by flood or bushfire
  • are a carer of a family member and going through a difficult period
  • are victims or affected by family or domestic violence

The initiative is part of a wider vulnerability strategy that is being developed and implemented across the TIO, which assists us to identify and meet the needs of vulnerable consumers.

The TIO’s goal is to identify consumers in hardship as soon as possible, and have their complaints prioritised and assigned to specially trained case handlers if they remain unresolved.

The team are also looking to improve reporting on complaints in the ‘Hardship and Extra Care’ queue to enable the TIO to work better with telcos and stakeholders in developing strategies to prevent and reduce these complaints.

Commenting on the new queue initiative, Executive General Manager, Operational Excellence Bernie Wise said, “Identifying consumers who need extra care early in a complaint process means that we can provide any additional support the consumer may need.

“We aim to minimise the number and points of contact so a consumer does not have to retell their story multiple times, and relive that struggle. We’re also working closely with our members to ensure these consumers are treated with sensitivity and compassion.”