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What does ‘fair’ really mean? “World-leading” work underway at the TIO

Providing a fair, independent, and accessible dispute resolution service is part of the TIO’s purpose. But what does ‘fair’ really mean? And can it be objectively measured? These are questions the TIO’s Fairness Project team has been trying to answer.

The Fairness Project Team is creating a vision for evaluating fairness at the TIO, and a methodology to measure the concept. The Team is currently trialling a series of questions emailed to a consumer or member at the end of a process. The questions are different for members and consumers, and are dependent on the stage of the complaint (for example, after referral or case management). All responses are anonymous.

Assistant Ombudsman and project sponsor James McDonald explained that each response gets a different weighting to be able to create a fairness score. “For example, if someone felt their interaction was unfair because they were not being listened to, that will have a higher weighting than if it is because they did not like the outcome.”

“This is very exciting work because it is world leading. The TIO will have a tool that very simply measures a very complex concept. This is really important work because being fair is at the core of any Ombudsman service. This metric will give both consumers and members a voice when it comes to how fair we are.”

One of the biggest challenges the Project Team face is understanding how to implement a fairness metric efficiently. James said, “Larger market research companies would charge thousands of dollars to do this type of research on an ongoing basis. But we need to work out a way that we can do this important work so we get meaningful responses, but also do it in a sustainable and efficient way.”