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Systemic Issues

In addition to resolving individual complaints, we also address problems that may affect a number of consumers through our systemic issues work. 

We drive industry improvement by identifying, investigating and helping to resolve systemic issues. By sharing our insights and working with telecommunications providers to improve their practices, we achieve better outcomes for consumers and the industry. 

What is a systemic issue?

A systemic issue is one that has or is likely to have a negative effect on a number of consumers or a particular type of consumer, including about: 
a)    telecommunications provider’s systems, policies, processes or practices 
b)    repeated conduct by a telecommunications provider that indicates potential non-compliance with the law, regulatory requirements, or good industry practice, and 
c)    widespread issues driving complaints, which may arise from general industry practices, gaps in consumer awareness, or the broader regulatory and telecommunications operating landscape. 

How we investigate systemic issues 

We identify possible systemic issues through handling complaints and analysing complaint trends, as well as through information from other organisations. If we decide to investigate a possible systemic issue, we will begin by notifying the relevant telecommunications provider and requesting information. 

We work with the telecommunications provider to address a systemic issue, often reaching an agreed resolution through consultation and negotiation. We will seek to understand the issue and may suggest improvements or remedial actions. We may ask the provider to commit to timeframes for any agreed actions.

If a systemic issue cannot be resolved by agreement, we can make recommendations that the provider does or refrains from doing anything necessary to address the systemic issue. We can also refer the issue to relevant regulators. 

For more information on how we investigate systemic issues, please see our Factsheet and Systemic Issue Guidelines below.  

Systemic investigation reports 

In addition to investigating systemic issues about individual providers, we publish systemic investigation reports into widespread issues driving complaints within the telecommunications industry. 

Publishing reports serves the dual purpose of recommending improvements in industry practice and advising consumers how they can avoid common issues. 


June 2023 A time for change – Three years of systemic investigations in review
Apr 2023 Thematic review of our financial hardship complaints 2021-2023
Jul 2022 Investigating complaints about essential mobile services
Nov 2021 Defending phone and internet accounts from fraudsters
Sep 2021 Responding to consumers in financial hardship
May 2021 Helping telco consumers sign up to the right phone and internet products
Dec 2020 Meeting the needs of consumers impacted by family violence
Jul 2020 Impact of COVID-19 on phone and internet complaints
Jun 2020 Addressing the causes of small business complaints
Aug 2019 Misleading telemarketing of NBN services
Feb 2019 Reducing fraudsters' theft of mobile numbers
Feb 2019 Sales Practices Driving Consumer Debt
Jul 2018 Loss of telephone numbers during migration to the NBN