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Telecommunications financial hardship guide updated

01 May 2017

A second version of Responding to Customers in Financial Hardship: Principles and Practices for Telecommunications Service Providers was released today following a consultative process including telecommunications industry and financial counselling representatives with the assistance of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. The guide sets out principles and practices that telecommunications and internet service providers may use when dealing with consumers in financial hardship.

The updated guide reflects changes in how consumers use telecommunications services and supports relevant recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.

“The updated guide explicitly recognises that family violence can contribute to financial hardship among its victims and lists it as an express criterion for financial hardship assistance,” said Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton. The guide also highlights the importance of access to telecommunications services for people who have experienced family violence.

The document builds on provisions in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code. It recommends providers take a broad perspective to consumer financial hardship and provides guidance on a variety of ways to assist consumers experiencing financial hardship.

“Revising the principles and practices document ensures that examples of best practice reflect the changing nature of essential telecommunication services,” said Financial Counselling Australia Chief Executive Officer Fiona Guthrie.

“The revised guide calls for review once every three years by suppliers and consumer representatives, encouraging ongoing collaboration to assist consumers.”

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman facilitated the collaborative approach to the revision and convened a roundtable in 2016. Judi Jones, TIO, said that the updated version of the guide “demonstrates the usefulness of the original guide and strength of the principles-based approach to assist consumers.”

The revised guide is now available to download.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) provides an independent dispute resolution service for small business and residential customers who have a complaint about their telephone or internet service in Australia.

Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet service providers, content providers, search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.  

Its vision is to provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. 

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) is the peak body for financial counsellors in Australia. Financial counsellors provide advice to people experiencing financial difficulty. Working in community organisations, financial counselling is a free, confidential and independent service.

FCA's role is to support the financial counselling profession, providing information and resources to help financial counsellors in their work. We also advocate for a fairer financial services marketplace to prevent problems in the first place.

Media information contact:
Sarah Carnovale
03 8600 8740

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