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First Peoples

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This inquiry was referred by the Minister for Indigenous Australians in October 2021. Unfortunately given the limited timeframe to gather evidence and consult with stakeholders and COVID related travel restrictions, it was not possible for the committee to finish gathering evidence of corporate malfeasance against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers nor to put that evidence to the impugned businesses for their response.

Given the short time remaining in this Parliament, the committee decided to present this interim report, in the form of an issues paper, for consideration by the new committee, rather than a final report.

The evidence gathered so far highlighted a number of core issues that warrant further detailed scrutiny including:

  • The future evolution of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program and whether it is effective in promoting cultural awareness and appropriate behaviour among Australian corporations. A RAP document cannot just be a ‘box-ticking’ exercise. It has to become, and remain, an integral part of the practices of the business at all levels.
  • The impact of ongoing poor behaviour in the telco sector and of telecommunications debts accumulated by many in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, notwithstanding the important Telstra ruling and financial penalty.
  • The continued behaviour by banks and other financial services businesses which take unfair advantage of the poor financial literacy of some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers.
  • The predatory practices of certain payday-style lenders, car finance operations, and funeral insurance businesses that operate outside the reach of regulators.
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