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Issue 25 - May 2016

Considering more vulnerable consumers’ needs


FOS has been extremely active on the outreach front this quarter, with a presence at a diverse range of public events.

We attended the Yabun Festival on Australia Day, the largest one day celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in the country – the event was a great opportunity to raise awareness of FOS among Indigenous people from across Australia. We were also present at Mardi Gras Fair Day, drawing an enormous number of visitors to our shared stand with Ombudsman NSW. And we continue to raise awareness with people with a disability – and carers and case workers – at a series of events rolling out the Australian Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme.

In a new sponsorship arrangement, FOS supported the 4th Annual Elder Abuse Conference; an event bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders to better understand and address this serious issue. Following up on this theme, we also attended the seniors’ days at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, Australia’s largest annual event attracting almost a million visitors.

Partnerships that deliver benefits for vulnerable consumers

FOS staff recently had the opportunity to hear from Helen Kapalos, Victoria’s Multicultural Commissioner, who came and spoke at our office on Harmony Day. Helen sees really listening to the community as central to her role, and many of the stories she shared highlighted the importance of partnerships in building social inclusion.

“I am really looking forward to working more closely with the Financial Ombudsman Service in the future,” Helen said.

“It was incredibly valuable to be able to meet FOS staff, hear their interesting questions and learn about the important work they all do.

“I am working on a plan to raise awareness of the function and role of FOS and how it best applies to our CALD communities. It's an exciting opportunity for us to empower our CALD communities around some vulnerable areas of concern.”

We are constantly looking for opportunities to remove the hurdles that might make accessing our service harder than it should be, and one of the ways we do so is by creating meaningful partnerships with the consumer sector. FOS has been working closely with consumer advocates, including financial counsellors, for many years. We will continue to do so, particularly as the sector works through how to provide meaningful support to vulnerable consumers, like older Australians suffering abuse and victims of family violence.

With the significant increase in consumer outreach activities as described above, we will shortly be launching a new animation (with companion brochure) explaining FOS services to consumers who come from a non-English speaking background. The brochure will initially be available in 14 different languages.