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‘Indigenous Consumers Count’ are reports examining consumer issues faced by Indigenous Western Australians and whether consumer protection services adequately meet the needs of this diverse population. The report is based on research into the perceptions of advocates and service providers from organisations concerned with the needs of Indigenous Western Australian consumers. The research helps Consumer Protection develop and implement campaigns addressing the reported issues.
Indigenous Consumers Count’ is the first report of its kind to examine consumer issues faced by Indigenous Western Australians and whether the current provision of consumer protection services adequately meets the needs of this diverse population. The report is based on research into the perceptions of advocates and service providers from organisations concerned with the needs of Indigenous Western Australian consumers. The research was conducted by the Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection (DOCEP) in 2004-05.
The objectives of the research project were to:
Advocates and service providers from regional centres and the metropolitan area took part in in-depth interviews with DOCEP Indigenous officers. The regional interviews were preceded by community meetings.
The research also found that awareness of the services that DOCEP provides through its call centre was almost double in the metropolitan area. In line with this finding, metropolitan service providers were much more likely to advise clients to use the call centre than regional respondents. Opinion was divided on the extent to which call centres were considered culturally appropriate.
Awareness of DOCEP regional offices was low and regional respondents felt this needed improvement. The employment of Indigenous staff was seen as an effective strategy to increase the profile of these offices.
Knowledge of the existence of DOCEP publications was also very low, with less than one-quarter of the respondents being aware of them.
More metropolitan than regional respondents were likely to use the DOCEP website. The creation of an Indigenous consumer website was supported, although there was some indication that the site would be more likely to be used by consumer advocates than Indigenous consumers themselves.
To improve DOCEP services to Indigenous consumers, strong support was given to the proposal of DOCEP officers attending Indigenous cultural activities and events. The use of media was also seen as a positive strategy, with radio, (particularly Indigenous radio), deemed the best media resource in both regional and metropolitan areas.
The strategy for increasing consumer awareness among Indigenous Western Australians most favoured by respondents was the creation of an Indigenous consumer advocate network.