New industry standard to support vulnerable Australians

The standard will ensure telcos provide appropriate support to consumers experiencing financial hardship.

Telcos will need to provide appropriate financial hardship assistance to all consumers experiencing difficulty paying their telco bill, including by prioritising keeping customers connected. Telcos will also need to establish and promote clearly accessible financial hardship policies and proactively identify consumers who may be experiencing financial hardship.

The new Industry Standard on Financial Hardship will cover mobile services as well as internet and voice services used by individuals and small business.

The Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to develop the Standard.

It replaces the rules on financial hardship that are currently in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code, providing the ACMA with greater flexibility and oversight to ensure telcos are assisting their customers struggling with their bills. Compliance with the Standard is mandatory and telcos face penalties of up to $250,000 for each breach.

The Standard was finalised by the ACMA following a one-month consultation period and will commence in full on 29 March 2024, continuing the government's commitment to support Australians struggling with increased living costs.

To access the Standard visit Federal Register of Legislation—Telecommunications (Financial Hardship) Industry Standard 2024.

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