Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action) and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) have launched a new report on the consumer, credit and debt issues affecting Victorian Aboriginal communities today, highlighting the harmful sales tactics used by some companies and heartbreaking personal stories.

Consumer issues in Victorian Aboriginal communities’ is the final report of the Consumer Action and VALS integrated practice project – a ground-breaking partnership that seeks to address unmet consumer credit and debt legal need in Victorian Aboriginal communities.

Consumer Action and VALS’ report puts the spotlight on harmful products and practices the organisations are seeing in their casework and engagement sessions with community. These include:

  • Funeral insurance
  • Utilities issues
  • Irresponsible lending, including by payday lenders
  • Being sold unsuitable ’junk insurance’
  • Unsolicited and high pressure selling
  • Telecommunication product and services

The report also highlights the correlation between financial hardship and crime, and problems with access to consumer credit and debt legal services in communities.

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In March 2019, Consumer Action and VALS embarked on an Integrated Practice Project (IP Project) as one way of addressing some of the unmet consumer, credit and debt legal needs of Victorian Aboriginal communities. As part of the IP Project, VALS and Consumer Action work together to participate in regular community engagement sessions with Victorian Aboriginal communities. Community engagement sessions operate in partnership with local ACCOs and other key service providers. The sessions have served to connect communities with legal advice services, financial counselling policy work and legal education relating to consumer credit and debt issues.