Exploring regulatory approaches to consumer vulnerability: A report for the AER

Special report
Release date: 
26 February 2020


On 26 February 2020, we published new research on regulatory approaches to consumer vulnerability, prepared for the AER by the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC).

The report was launched at the Dr Gill Owen Forum on fairness for consumers in the energy transition, hosted by the AER in Melbourne on 25 February 2020.

The report will be of interest to a wide range of regulators, policy-makers, industry participants, consumer advocates and consumer representatives. We are now using the report to inform our thinking about where to next. To keep up to date, email the team at AERConsumerandPolicy@aer.gov.au.

About the report

Exploring regulatory approaches to consumer vulnerability: A report for the AER examines the opportunities and benefits of different approaches to address consumer vulnerability in regulated markets. It seeks to learn from different experiences and approaches in Australia and internationally.

The report provides a contemporary understanding of consumer vulnerability, looks at why regulators are focusing on this in regulatory design, and provides some lessons and opportunities for change.

Importantly, the report recognises that understanding the lived experience of consumers in markets is key to delivering effective regulatory responses to vulnerabilities. The report gives an up-to-date snapshot of the lived experience of consumer vulnerability. For example:

  • 44% of Australians have literacy levels below what is considered enough to get by in everyday life
  • 1 in 5 have a disability
  • 2 in 3 experience some form of financial stress at some point in their life
  • 1 in 5 speak a language other than English at home, and
  • 1 in 6 women have experienced physical and, or sexual violence by a current or previous partner.
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