There are many things that can be done by consumers to resolve a breach of contract. Making a complaint, standing your ground and demanding remedy at the earliest opportunity is the most important first step. After that, courts, tribunals and ombudsmen can help resolve disputes.

Contributor

Gerard Brody

CEO, Consumer Action Law Centre

Taking action as a consumer: Contacts

Information and complaints

To find an agency or dispute resolution scheme, refer to the section of this book relevant to your specific area of complaint.

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
Tel: 1300 558 181
Tel (Koori helpline): 1300 661 511
Web: www.consumer.vic.gov.au

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Tel: 1300 018 228
Email: civil@vcat.vic.gov.au
Web: www.vcat.vic.gov.au

VCAT hears matters at venues in metropolitan and regional Victoria; see VCAT’s website for addresses.

Licensing bodies

Business Licensing Authority (BLA)
Level 17, 121 Exhibition Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1300 135 452
Web: www.consumer.vic.gov.au/bla

Written correspondence and applications to:
Registrar, Business Licensing Authority, 
GPO Box 322, Melbourne Vic 3001

The BLA’s services include:

  • applications for business licences and registrations;
  • lodgment of annual returns for motor car traders, second-hand dealers, pawnbrokers and travel agents;
  • payment of annual fees;
  • update of business licence or registration details.
Other complaint handling bodies
Dispute resolution

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV)
Level 4, 456 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1300 372 888
Web: www.disputes.vic.gov.au

The DSCV has offices in metropolitan and regional Victoria; see their website for details.

Electricity, gas and water

Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV)
Central Tower, Level 8, 360 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1800 500 509 
Email: ewovinfo@ewov.com.au
Web: www.ewov.com.au

The EWOV investigates and facilitates the resolution of disputes by consumers against electricity, gas and water providers. The EWOV provides a free service.

Finance

Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
Tel: 1800 931 678
Email: info@afca.com.au
Web: www.afca.org.au

AFCA deals with complaints from consumers in the financial system. It replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Credit and Investments Service in 2018.

Food

Food Safety Unit
Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services
50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne Vic 3001
Tel: 1300 364 352
Email: foodsafety@dhhs.vic.gov.au
Web: www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/food-safety

If you have safety or contamination concerns about a food product or business, or wish to report a case of illness caused by food, contact the Environmental Health Officer at the local council in the area where the food was purchased. If the local council is unable to assist, contact the Food Safety Unit.

Health

Medicare Australia
Australian Government Services Australia
Tel: 13 20 11
Web: www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/medicare

The Medicare Australia complaints line accepts complaints about the administrative actions of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Complaints can also be directed to the Commonwealth Ombudsman (see Chapter 12.3: Taking a problem to an ombudsman).

Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC)
Level 26, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1300 582 113
Web: https://hcc.vic.gov.au

The HCC investigates and facilitates the resolution of complaints against health service providers, including individual practitioners, public and private hospitals, health clinics, dentists, doctors and specialists (see Chapter 9.1: Health and the law).

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra)
Melbourne office:
Level 8, 111 Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1300 419 495
Web: www.ahpra.gov.au 

Ahpra is the national agency responsible for the registration and accreditation of health pro­fessionals in Australia, including doctors, nurses and midwives, chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, osteopaths, phar­macists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists.

Health insurance

Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO)
Level 6, 34 Queen Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 1300 737 299
Web: www.privatehealth.gov.au

The PHIO is a Commonwealth statutory body that provides private health insurance fund members with an independent service for the resolution of health insurance problems and enquiries.

Local government

Local Government Inspectorate
Level 27, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel (admin): 7017 8212
Tel (complaints hotline): 1800 469 359
Email: inspectorate@lgi.vic.gov.au
Web: www.lgi.vic.gov.au

Investigates complaints about possible breaches by local councils of the Local Government Act 1989 (Vic).

Public transport

Public Transport Ombudsman Victoria
Tel: 1800 466 865
Email: enquiries@ptovic.com.au
Web: www.ptovic.com.au

The Public Transport Ombudsman investigates and facilitates the resolution of complaints against public transport operators relating to matters such as services and disruptions, ticketing, conduct of staff, accessibility and public transport works. It provides a free and independent and service.

Victorian Ombudsman
Level 2, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 9613 6222; 1800 806 314 (country callers)
Web: www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

The Victorian Ombudsman investigates complaints by individuals about administrative actions taken by Victorian Government departments, statutory authorities and local government. The ombudsman can also investigate the actions of authorised officers (e.g. ticket inspectors) who exercise statutory powers. 

It provides a free, independent service. (See Chapter 12.3: Taking a problem to an ombudsman.)

Real estate agents

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV)
Tel: 1300 558 181
Web: www.consumer.vic.gov.au/property

CAV has a dedicated service for advice, information, complaints and dispute resolution regarding the conduct of real estate agents. A complaint form can be downloaded from the website.

Superannuation

Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
Tel: 1800 931 678
Email: info@afca.org.au
Web: www.afca.org.au

AFCA replaced the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal on 1 November 2018.

Taxation

Australian Government Tax Practitioners Board
Tel: 1300 362 829
Web: www.tpb.gov.au

The Tax Practitioners Board is a Commonwealth Government statutory authority entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the maintenance of proper standards in the tax agent profession. Complaints against tax agents should be made in writing and should include all details of the dispute.

Telecommunications

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
Tel: 1800 062 058
Web: www.tio.com.au

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman investigates and facilitates the resolution of complaints and disputes by consumers and small businesses against telecommunications service providers, including landline, mobile phone and internet services. These services are free.

Transport

Consumer Affairs Victoria: see above

Motor Car Traders Guarantee Fund
Tel: 1300 558 181
Web: www.consumer.vic.gov.au/about-us/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/funds-we-administer/motor-car-traders-guarantee-fund

Through this fund, consumers can be financially compensated for a loss suffered as a result of a motor car trader failing to comply with the Motor Car Traders Act 1989 (Vic) (e.g. a trader has not transferred clear title to a car, or complied with the warranty, or provided a roadworthy certificate).

VicRoads
Tel: 13 11 71
Web: www.vicroads.vic.gov.au

Written complaints to:
Director Customer Services, VicRoads Head Office,
60 Denmark Street, Kew Vic 3101

Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC)
Level 7, 464 St Kilda Road, Melbourne Vic 3004
Tel: 9829 1111
Email: vacc@vacc.com.au
Web: www.vacc.com.au

VACC is a Victorian motor industry association. It deals with consumer and industry issues, conducts and publishes automotive industry research, advocates to government and other agencies, and supports its members (automotive repair, service and retail businesses). 

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