Director's foreword

Skip listen and sharing tools

Nicole Rich, Director, Consumer Affairs Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria's work in 2019-20 has been underpinned by our focus on achieving our vision of a fair and competitive marketplace in Victoria and delivering key outcomes for the community.

With the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19), CAV responded quickly to support the community in a time of uncertainty and distress. The COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 introduced new measures to protect Victorian tenants and landlords from the economic impact of the pandemic, and CAV has played a key role in implementing these measures and helping Victorians navigate the new business landscape. In particular, together with our colleagues in the Department of Justice and Community Safety we quickly established and ran the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme, helping tens of thousands of Victorians reach agreements on reduced rent and access various relief schemes.

Despite the shift to remote working practices and the establishment of the new Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme, we continued to deliver our functions to enable a competitive and fair marketplace for business and consumers, although we needed to restrict some consumer and business phone services from March as a result. We enforced regulations to protect consumers by ensuring businesses complied with consumer laws. In 2019-20, CAV undertook a range of enforcement actions against businesses for unfair practices, across a broad range of industries. We achieved significant court outcomes in matters involving sale of land, retirement village administration, and motor car trading.

We expanded our financial counselling program to provide support to Victorians impacted by bushfires during the unprecedented 2019-20 fire season and responded to the Royal Commission into Family Violence by adding specialist roles to provide specialised family violence financial counselling.

We also commenced implementing the Victorian Government's important reforms to the Victorian rental market, to strengthen the rights of renters in houses, caravan parks and crisis accommodation across the state. While the pandemic put a temporary halt to the broader rental reform implementation, significant progress was made in the first half of the year, including the passing of legislation making it easier for tenants to keep pets in their homes.

The projects and work highlighted in this year's annual report reflect the commitment of our people to regulatory excellence and achieving positive outcomes for the Victorian community. I would like to take this opportunity to recognise their integral role in our achievements over the past 12 months.

I acknowledge the leadership and contribution of my predecessors Sam Jenkin and Michelle Osborne, during a uniquely challenging year. Sam and Michelle spearheaded key CAV initiatives and led CAV through the challenging times of the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19), ensuring CAV was able to retain most of its core functions and also mobilise quickly and efficiently to launch new programs in response to the pandemic, most notably the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme.

As we move through the health crisis, we will need approaches and reforms that continue to ensure safety and fairness in the marketplace for consumers and tenants while supporting businesses and community groups recover and contribute to the economy and community. Looking ahead to 2020-21, CAV is committed to playing this important part in the government's efforts to re-energise the economy and our community.

 

Nicole Rich signature

Nicole Rich

Executive Director Regulatory Services &

Director, Consumer Affairs Victoria