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Council Chairman's message

The last 12 months have been a time of review, change and improvement at the TIO.

A number of reviews related to the TIO have been conducted or completed during the period, including reviews by KPMG, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. The TIO Council has been actively involved in providing input and consultation to these reviews and will continue to take an active role as the many recommendations tabled are considered for implementation.

Council has also overseen numerous changes to the TIO Scheme during the period. These include changes to the Constitution of the TIO as well as TIO complaint resolution processes and procedures. Most notably, the TIO has successfully implemented a new process for the handling of "Level 2" complaints – adopting a conciliation approach to dispute resolution. Initial results from this process change are very positive, with substantial reductions in the time it takes to resolve these complaints along with high levels of satisfaction being recorded from both consumers and members.

The TIO has also introduced new procedures for handling enquiries from consumers that have been unable to contact their provider. We have also increased the Ombudsman's determination and recommendation powers to $50,000 and $100,000 respectively, effective 1 July 2012. Finally, the TIO successfully implemented a new complaints handling system, which went live in May, 2012.

Complaint volumes to the TIO remain high, but are reducing. Total new complaints received for the 2011-12 period were 193,702 compared with 197,682 in 2010-11. As I noted in my report last year, many of these complaints could have been resolved directly by the industry member if the customer had been able to contact the appropriate department of that member. I am pleased to say that some members have taken steps to address this significant issue by improving their complaint handling capacity and advising their customers how to make contact. But, there is much more to be done by industry if we are to materially reduce new complaints made directly to the TIO.

Looking forward, the next 12 months will see a number of key activities for the TIO and Council as we absorb changes as a result of new systems and processes and work through the recommendations of the reviews mentioned above. Council has also undertaken to perform a major review of the TIO Constitution over the coming months. Finally, we will be pro-actively assessing and providing input on new industry developments that could affect consumers and potentially yield new types of complaints. These include the rollout of the National Broadband Network and the convergence of banking and telecommunications technologies such as the use of smartphones for financial transactions.

I would like to thank Ombudsman Simon Cohen and Deputy Ombudsman Diane Carmody for their initiatives and leadership, including the numerous improvements to TIO processes and systems that have been achieved. In addition, I thank Council for their efforts throughout the year and outgoing Council members Sue Sdregas and Wayne Warburton their dedicated service to Council. We also welcome Catriona Lowe and Gary Smith as new members of Council.

Finally, on behalf of Council, I express our thanks to the TIO Board for their support throughout the year and for their collaborative approach in working with Council.

Andrew Dyer
Council Chairman

About the TIO Council

The Council is comprised of five representatives from service providers and five consumer representatives, with an independent chairman.

The TIO Council has oversight of the TIO Scheme. The Council’s responsibilities include maintaining the Ombudsman’s independence by acting as an intermediary between the Ombudsman and the Board, and monitoring and making recommendations about amendments to the TIO Constitution.

About the TIO Council

The Council is comprised of five representatives from service providers and five consumer representatives, with an independent chairman.

The TIO Council has oversight of the TIO Scheme. The Council’s responsibilities include maintaining the Ombudsman’s independence by acting as an intermediary between the Ombudsman and the Board, and monitoring and making recommendations about amendments to the TIO Constitution.