2015 Indigenous Consumers Count

‘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.

Executive summary for the 2015 Indigenous Consumers Count

This is the second Indigenous Consumers Count survey report produced by the Consumer Protection Division (Consumer Protection) of the Department of Commerce (the Department) in Western Australia. The first report was published in 2007.

This report summarises the findings of the 2014 research undertaken by the Department into the perceptions of Indigenous consumers as well as Indigenous corporations, advocates and service providers concerned with the needs of Indigenous Western Australians.

The objective of this research project was to explore:

  • current issues facing Indigenous consumers
  • the relevance of Consumer Protection to Indigenous consumers
  • the acceptance of current consumer education programs, including the channels used to communicate with Indigenous consumers; and
  • how Consumer Protection can continue to meet the current and future needs of Indigenous consumers in Western Australia.

As part of this research, advocates and service providers from urban, regional and remote locations were approached to complete a survey. These organisations were also asked to assist in supporting very remote community members to take part in the research. The 2007 report had highlighted a marked difference between the issues and the needs of Indigenous consumers in remote communities compared with those living in urban areas. Making use of stakeholder networks to reach consumers residing in remote communities was an important feature of the 2014 research.

A number of tailored consumer engagement programs had been developed between 2007 and 2014 to address the consumer issues highlighted in the 2007 report. These programs included: providing support for Indigenous consumers to lodge a complaint; a focus on increasing understanding of their rights (delivered in a culturally appropriate way); and increasing the avenues available to make an enquiry or interact through their preferred channels (including face-to-face engagement, online and/or via social media). This current report seeks to evaluate the impact of those initiatives in meeting the needs of Indigenous consumers in Western Australia.

As part of this project, two separate survey instruments were developed. One survey was designed for use by stakeholders while the other was developed for consumers. These surveys differed in small ways and were customised to deliver responses that could be verified and cross-checked. The results of both surveys provided pertinent information about Indigenous consumers, the services they prefer and the support mechanisms they access. 

In-depth interviews were conducted by the Department’s Indigenous Community Education Officer with Indigenous consumers face-to-face, over the phone and at community events. Consumers who had access to a computer and the Internet were given the opportunity to participate in an online survey. Service providers all participated online by completing the web-based survey for stakeholders.

Survey topics were aligned to both the National Indigenous Consumer Strategy (NICS) priorities and the Department’s own Indigenous Communication and Education Plan.

2015 indigenous consumers count cover
2015 indigenous consumers count cover, by Consumer Protection

2015 Indigenous Consumers Count report - key findings

  • There is a need within the community to learn more about contracts, credit/debt, finance and scams.
  • Only 40 per cent of Indigenous consumers are aware of Consumer Protection’s regional offices and only 38 per cent know the officers working at Consumer Protection.
  • Sixty three per cent of respondents knew of the Consumer Protection Contact Centre with only 21 per cent of the community having actually used it.
  • There is a high level use of social media and smart phones even in remote locations. The use of YouTube (31.1 per cent), Facebook (62.2 per cent) and smart phone Apps (32.6 per cent) has occurred from an almost zero base in the 2007 report.
  • Approximately 67 per cent of respondents believe that Indigenous community radio is still an appropriate method for communicating messages to the wider Indigenous community.
  • The preference for educational posters (48 per cent) and local newspapers (56 per cent) also remains high.
  • Another finding was the overall decrease (down to 4.1 per cent) in the reliance on Community Resource Centres (telecentres) and libraries as a source of information for Indigenous consumers.

Of the respondents, 35 per cent had achieved a year 10 high school certificate and 5 per cent did not complete primary school. These findings are consistent with concerns about the low numeracy and literacy rates and skills of many Indigenous consumers. This reinforces the ongoing need for Consumer Protection to ensure that appropriate and effective strategies are put in place so everyone understands their consumer rights.


Executive Summary

  1. Introduction
    1. Background To The Project
    2. Purpose Of Research
    3. Methodology
    4. Data Analysis
    5. Limitations 
  2. What Has Been Achieved 2007 – 2015
    1. Promoting Consumer Protection
    2. Using Media For Promotional Purposes
    3. Creating Indigenous Publications
    4. Building A Network Of Community Advocates & Stakeholders 
  3. Respondents’ Profile
    1. Indigenous Consumer Profile
    2. Stakeholders’ Profile
  4. 4 Indigenous Consumer Issues
    1. Top 10 Issues Identied In 2007 And 2014
    2. Money, Credit And Finance
    3. Discrimination
    4. Social Housing
    5. Funeral Insurance
    6. Level Of Consumer Knowledge
    7. Accessing Information
    8. Motor Vehicles
    9. Mobile Phones 
  5. Indigenous Consumer Issues (Stakeholders)
    1. Top 10 Issues Identified
    2. Public And Private Tenancy
    3. Credit, Finance And Understanding Money
    4. Contracts And Door-To-Door Sales
    5. Contracts And Family Portraits 
  6. Recommendations 
  7. References
  8. Appendix A – Acronyms And Definitions 
Consumer Protection
Guide / handbook
Last updated 13 Mar 2023

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