Consumer Affairs Victoria is the state’s consumer affairs regulator, operating within the national consumer protection framework. We are part of the Regulation Division of the Victorian Government Department of Justice and Regulation.
Department of Justice and Regulation promotes and embraces the values of:
- working together
- making it happen
- respecting other people
- serving the community
- acting with integrity
These values are the basis for the way we do business and are demonstrated every day through the actions of our staff.
A fair and competitive marketplace in Victoria.
- Businesses are compliant with consumer laws
- Victorians exercise their consumer rights
- A fair and safe rental market for Victorians
- A modern and effective consumer law framework
- A sustainable and innovative regulator
Our purpose is to help Victorians be responsible and informed businesses and consumers.
To do this we:
- provide information and advice to consumers, tenants, businesses and landlords on their rights, responsibilities and changes to relevant laws
- register and license certain businesses and occupations
- enforce and ensure compliance with consumer laws
- review and advise the Victorian Government on the consumer protection framework
We provide administrative support to several statutory offices and bodies including the Business Licensing Authority, the Estate Agents Council, the Motor Car Traders Claims Committee and the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority.
Our regulatory approach
Our approach to regulation includes implementing and enforcing laws in order to steer the behaviour of regulated entities, with the objective of ensuring a safe and competitive Victorian marketplace, where businesses comply with laws and consumers exercise their rights.
Our regulatory approach is intelligence-led, risk-based and outcome-focused.
Our regulatory approach enables us to target the conduct which poses the highest risk to Victorians, while making the best use of our available resources.
A core element of our regulatory approach is the effective use of intelligence to inform decision making about how to manage key compliance laws.
Intelligence gathered in the course of our regulatory operations is supplemented by other sources, including national information shared among Australian Consumer Law (ACL) regulators, and from local councils, state regulators, law enforcement, and industry stakeholders, online forums and social media. For example, information provided from auditors reports on estate agents trust accounts alerts us to businesses who may have problematic practices, so we can prioritise inspection activity.
We also receive a large number of reports from consumers about business conduct or potential breaches of the law. While we do not pursue all of these individually, we use them as an important source of intelligence that helps us assess risks and take action as appropriate.
Where possible, we aim to identify and treat risks before they lead to actual consumer harm.
Regulatory risks are market behaviours that:
- represent non-compliance with the laws we administer
- present potential or realised consumer harm
- have an impact on our ability to be an effective regulator
- require a regulatory response due to public concern
We put our effort where it counts and target the areas of greatest risk and harm.
We monitor markets and use evidence to shape a targeted compliance program, focusing on those issues that pose the highest risk to Victorians. Levels of risk are determined according to evidence or likelihood of consumer harm. Risks can take many forms – for example, risks posed by:
- a particular product
- the conduct of an individual business
- a new or emerging business practice, or
- the conduct or business model of an entire industry
We use a range of compliance tools, underpinned by a compliance strategy that ultimately seeks to affect market outcomes. We make decisions on compliance actions in order to achieve outcomes that deter unlawful conduct, and promote future compliance.
We take enforcement action to serve the public interest. We exercise discretion, focusing on actions that can bring beneficial outcomes to all consumers. We do not take action on behalf of individuals to obtain redress.
The nature of the problem and the desired outcome determine which compliance and enforcement tools we use. Our key objective is voluntary compliance so whenever possible, our engagements with business will be for the purposes of compliance assistance and education.
However, when the issue is high-risk or requires urgent action to stop conduct, we may move straight to court action. For systemic issues, we may adopt a multi-faceted compliance strategy using several tools in combination, to target an entire industry.