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Exploring regulatory approaches to consumer vulnerability

A report for the Australian Energy Regulator
Consumer protection Co-design Price regulation Vulnerable people Regulator strategy Regulatory system Australia United Kingdom

This report examines the opportunities and benefits of different approaches to address consumer vulnerability in regulated markets. It seeks to learn from different experiences and approaches in Australia and internationally.

The report provides a contemporary understanding of consumer vulnerability, looks at why regulators are focusing on this in regulatory design, and provides some lessons and opportunities for change.

Importantly, the report recognises that understanding the lived experience of consumers in markets is key to delivering effective regulatory responses to vulnerabilities. The report gives an up-to-date snapshot of the lived experience of consumer vulnerability. For example:

  • 44% of Australians have literacy levels below what is considered enough to get by in everyday life
  • 1 in 5 have a disability
  • 2 in 3 experience some form of financial stress at some point in their life
  • 1 in 5 speak a language other than English at home, and
  • 1 in 6 women have experienced physical and, or sexual violence by a current or previous partner.
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