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Federal Government boosts funding for consumer information



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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon. Warren Truss, MP Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs Deputy Leader of the House

Tuesday 12 May 1998 128/98

Federal Government Boosts Funding for Consumer Information

The Federal Government will devote an additional $1 million over the next three years to support national consumer information initiatives, the Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs, Warren Truss, announced today.

The funding, announced as part of the 1998-99 Budget, will advance the Government’s commitment to ensuring that consumers and business people are aware of their rights and responsibilities. “Consumers need accessible, useful information on many issues. Unfortunately, that information is not always available,” Mr Truss said. *ยป "

. . .

“Recent Government research has revealed that many consumers living in rural and remote areas want better access to information on matters such as product safety and complaints handling. People bn low incomes, those with limited English, and older Australians can face similar problems obtaining useful consumer information.”

Over the next three years, the Government will develop consumer information programmes targeted to help disadvantaged consumers.

Community-based education programmes will assist consumers on low incomes to develop skills in key areas such as negotiating with traders, managing and avoiding debt and avoiding scams.

As part of the International Year of Older Persons in 1999, information materials will be developed for older consumers. These materials will include a guide on retirement and investment issues. Older consumers often have difficulties adjusting to technological change as new methods for delivering services, such as electronic banking, are introduced. The Government will work with

industry and community groups to find ways to ease these problems.

The Government will develop an Internet consumer information service, with a special focus on helping young consumers and people in rural and remote areas.

V ' '"The growth of industry-based dispute resolution is giving consumers new opportunities to have disputes settled quickly and cheaply outside the court system. The Government will continue to raise public awareness of these schemes. The Government will also produce product safety information to advise consumers about the safe use of products. A major education effort will be made as part of the nursery furniture safety programme.

The 1998 Budget confirms that the Government will continue to fund the Commonwealth Financial Counselling Programme, which provides counselling to low income Australians in financial crisis. About 10,000 Australians are assisted each year by more than 40 community-based services located around the country.

Contact: Ref: CMR1080

Andrew Hall — Media Adviser — 02 4277 7790 0419 994 744 Email: ahall@dist.gov.au Web sites: http://www.dist.gov.au www.customs.gov.au