Problems affecting consumers with a disability

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People with a disability experience the same problems as everybody else, but especially relating to:

  • personal care services, where contractors are paid to help people with a disability to carry out tasks such as getting out of bed and preparing meals
  • repairs to aids and equipment such as hearing aids, electric beds, and wheelchairs
  • vehicle modifications to accommodate wheelchairs and to enable easier driving by someone with a physical disability.

We consider that consumers with a disability may be in vulnerable or disadvantaged circumstances when:

  • market conditions are unfriendly, for example:
    • there may be no alternative suppliers of building or vehicle modification services
    • attendant care services may be in short supply
    • businesses act in ways which are misleading, deceptive or otherwise without conscience
  • consumers are at risk of physical harm, financial loss or disadvantage, for example:
    • faulty wheelchairs may result in consumers with a physical disability being confined to a chair or bed
    • faulty hearing aids may result in consumers with a hearing impairment being unable to talk on the telephone or hear an alarm
    • failures in the supply of scheduled support services may result in consumers with a physical impairment being unable to leave their homes
    • broken light fittings may endanger tenants with vision impairments who depend on appropriate illumination
    • missing or unstable handrails may endanger tenants with an unsteady gait.
  • consumers are not be able to protect themselves from harm or manage the consequences, for example:
    • consumers with limited mobility can feel ‘trapped’ in their homes by contact salespeople, and feel compelled to sign a contract in order to make them leave
    • consumers with particular mental illnesses may be at great risk of making excessive purchases, entering into serious debt, and taking other undue risks. The stress of dealing with the resulting debts can consequently aggravate symptoms of the illnesses
    • consumers with an acquired brain injury may have trouble remembering and quickly understanding information.

How do we define disability?

We define disability under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. It provides a broad definition that includes:

  • mental illness
  • acquired brain injury
  • intellectual disability
  • cognitive disability
  • vision impairment and blindness
  • hearing impairment and deafness
  • physical disability.

Our approach to complaints from consumers with a disability

We endeavour to help all people with a disability where they have privately purchased goods or services.

Complaints about disability services provided by the Department of Human Services or other registered disability service providers will be referred to the Disability Services Commissioner. These services do not however include services for people with a mental illness.

Complaints about goods and other services provided by the Department of Human Services, Mental Health Services or other organisations such as the Transport Accident Commission, will be referred to the proper organisation dealing with these types of complaints.