The findings of a national survey of legal need published in October offered an important snapshot of legal problems in Australia and the steps Australians take (or don’t take) to address those problems. Consumer legal problems, related to the buying and selling of goods and services, were the number one issue for most Australians who took part in the survey, accounting for one in five legal problems.
The Consumer Action Law Centre has now added some great new resources to the Victoria Law website to help Victorians better understand and address consumer legal problems or disputes.
Some of the topics covered include consumer rights and responsibilities, motor vehicle issues and dealing with debt or debt collectors. Importantly, their self help kits include sample letters and templates to help you resolve a problem or dispute.
Dan Simpson from Consumer Action Law Centre says the self help kits are designed to offer practical help to Victorian consumers.
‘We hope that they do more than just give information about the law. We want them to help consumers take action and assert their rights’, he says.
‘Our legal team develops these resources when it identifies an absence of free and practical information about a topic, and it updates them as the law evolves and as new legislation is passed.’
A great example of this is the What if I’m not happy with something I bought? self help kit. It provides advice about consumer rights and responsibilities and also includes a sample letter that you can send to the person or organisation who sold you a particular good or service. If you need to take the matter further, there is a follow-up fact sheet on resolving disputes at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which is where you could end up if you can’t solve the problem yourself. This outlines what VCAT is for, how it works, how to take action and what to expect at a VCAT hearing.
Victoria Law also connects you with valuable resources from Consumer Affairs Victoria, who provide information to help you understand your legal rights around refunds and returns, warranties and promotions, buying and selling property, renting and holiday accommodation, motor car issues and more. And it provides an up to date list of organisations you can contact for legal information and advice.