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05-393 ASIC launches book up guide for Indigenous communities
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has reinforced its commitment to consumer education in Indigenous communities today with the launch of a guide on 'book up' – a common practice used by traders which allows consumers to purchase goods on credit.
Launched by ASIC's Northern Territory Regional Commissioner, Mr Anthony Beven, and The Hon. John Kobelke MLA, WA Minister for Consumer and Employment Protection and Indigenous Affairs, Dealing with book up: a guide aims to help people in government and community agencies provide assistance to Indigenous communities in dealing with book up.
‘'Book up' (also known as 'book down') is credit offered by stores and other traders for the purchase of goods or services and is widely used by Aboriginal people, especially in regional and remote areas of Australia. A common practice is for a trader to hold the consumer's bank debit card (or keycard) and PIN number as a form of security for the credit,’ said Mr Beven.
‘Dealing with book up: a guide builds on ASIC's 2002 research report, Book Up: Some Consumer Problems, which looked at the prevalence of book up across Australia, and the problems associated with it.’
Common problems identified in ASIC's latest guide include:
- consumers being tied to one store and unable to shop elsewhere;
- poor record keeping regarding transactions;
- excessive debt levels for consumers;
- extra fees and charges;
- a lack of transparency;
- reduced financial literacy; and
- confusion and disagreement over family use of book up.
Mr Beven said the development of the new guide by ASIC fulfils a key commitment to the National Indigenous Consumer Strategy Taking Action, Gaining Trust, developed by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments in September.
‘ASIC hopes this guide will be a useful resource for community workers, financial counsellors, consumer affairs and fair trading officers and anyone else helping Aboriginal communities to deal with book up problems,’ he said.
‘The guide contains numerous case studies highlighting what communities have done to control or eliminate book up, suggestions for alternative ways of managing money and information on how the law applies to book up,’ Mr Beven said.
Dealing with book up: a guide also includes a community action survey, draft contract terms for store managers, a fold-out book up "map" with problems and solutions and a simple presentation that community workers or government agencies can use to increase awareness and understanding of book up in communities.
‘ASIC is grateful to the authors of the guide, Gordon Renouf and Robynne Quiggin, and to the many people who provided information used in the guide and commented on drafts of the text,’ Mr Beven said.
‘We are also grateful to the NSW Office of Fair Trading, the Queensland Department of Tourism, Fair Trading and Wine Industry Development and the WA Department of Consumer and Employment Protection for their financial contributions towards the production of the guide.’
Free copies of the guide may be ordered by calling ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630. Alternatively, consumers can download a specific section on ASIC's consumer website FIDO, www.fido.gov.au/bookup.
Consumers may also obtain free copies of Moola Talk, ASIC's colourful comic book, which addresses a number of financial problems faced by consumers in remote Indigenous communities, including warranties, credit cards, insurance sales and banking.