On 4 March 2011 the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, announced the release of a discussion paper examining opportunities to reform the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) scheme.

The TIO was established in 1993 in accordance with the Telecommunications Act 1991 to provide a free and independent alternative dispute resolution scheme for small business and residential consumers in Australia who have complaints about their telephone or internet services. Each telecommunications carrier and eligible carriage service provider is required by law to participate in the TIO scheme. The TIO is able to investigate complaints and, where appropriate, make determinations on the matters raised and/or give directions to carriage services about those matters.

The discussion paper provided below seeks views on the effectiveness of the TIO dispute resolution mechanism in the areas of:

  • speed, fairness and efficiency
  • consistency with current Alternative Dispute Resolution best practice
  • ability to promote and encourage industry efforts to deliver quality complaint resolution prior to outside intervention.

The views provided in response to the discussion paper will assist the department to provide advice to the Australian Government on options for TIO reform.

The discussion paper complements the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Reconnecting the Customer inquiry and the Communications Alliance’s review of the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code, which are currently underway.

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