The Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs (MCCA) has released its mid-term report on the implementation of the National Indigenous Consumer Strategy (NICS) Action Plan 2005 “ 2010.

The Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, the Hon Chris Bowen MP said the plan committed Commonwealth, State and Territory consumer agencies to:

* improve Indigenous consumers’ knowledge of their rights and obligations under consumer protection laws and achieve greater Indigenous access to consumer protection programs;
* improve the behaviour of traders, through education and compliance activity, to reduce detriment experienced by Indigenous consumers; and
* promote effective engagement and partnership between consumer protection agencies, Indigenous organisations, business and other government agencies to improve consumer outcomes for Indigenous people.

Mr Bowen said consumer agencies across the nation recognised the need to continuously improve service delivery and outcomes to Indigenous consumers.

We must make sure we provide culturally appropriate services and support to better engage indigenous Australians and provide improvements to their experiences as consumers, he said.

Mr Bowen noted that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) are strongly committed to the needs of Indigenous consumers through effective partnerships with organisations such as the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN).

The Action Plan identifies actions under eight key priority areas:

* Employment of Indigenous staff in consumer agencies.
* Advocacy of Indigenous consumers’ interests.
* Housing.
* Financial management and banking.
* Motor vehicles and boats.
* Trading practices.
* Arts industry.
* Managing Indigenous community organisations.

Mr Bowen said the Action Plan is a living document “ regularly monitored, evaluated and progress towards its implementation reported.