Industry Schemes

Industry schemesThe Australian Government has introduced several mandatory and voluntary industry schemes to provide industries with an ongoing, cost-effective dispute resolution mechanism as an alternative to taking action in the courts.

This has necessitated the establishment and operation of dispute resolution and mediation services for those industries.

The AMA’s role, as an independent adviser and provider of mediation services, is to advise industry stakeholders on dispute resolution, to resolve disputes, arrange mediation and to act as an adviser to disputants within Australian industries who are seeking dispute resolution.

The AMA can assist in the resolution of disputes that occur within the following Industries.

Petroleum Retail Industry – Mandatory Mediation under the Oilcode

The AMA can assist in the resolution of all disputes encompassed under the Oilcode.  As part of the Downstream Petroleum Reform Package, the Government introduced the Trade Practices (Industry Codes – Oilcode) Regulations 2006 (the Oilcode) as a mandatory industry code under Section 51AE of the Trade Practices Act 1974.  A copy of the final Oilcode Regulations can be accessed at www.frli.gov.au.

Produce and Grocery Industry

The Australian Produce and Grocery Industry has established a voluntary Code of
Conduct to promote fair trading between industry participants. In the event of disputes, the Produce and Grocery Industry legislation provides independent mediation services to participants in the industry. The AMA can assist in the resolution of all disputes encompassed under this voluntary code of conduct.

Franchising Code of Conduct

All franchise businesses are required by law to comply with the Franchising Code of Conduct. This Code protects the rights of franchisees and sets out the obligations of franchisors. The Code also provides a mediation procedure where disputes cannot be resolved within the franchise system.

The Australian franchise industry has been regulated by the ACCC since 1998. A cornerstone of the regulation is the Franchising Code of Conduct. The Franchising Code of Conduct has been created to assist the ongoing relationship between the franchisee and franchisor. Issues covered include:

  • Disclosure of the pertinent information regarding the Franchisor,
  • Conditions contained within the Franchise Agreement, and
  • Complaint handling and dispute resolution procedures.

Body Corporate and Community Management – Queensland

Improved dispute resolution processes will make justice more accessible for up to 500,000 Queenslanders living in apartments or units. This legislation will accelerate the resolution of disputes and minimise the likelihood of future problems, it will improve communication between the parties in dispute and providing the means to reach agreement rather than having decisions imposed on them.

The AMA can assist in the resolution of all disputes encompassed under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act, before they proceed to more formal processes.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Assistance Scheme (ADRAS)

If you are involved in a workplace dispute you may be eligible for help under the Alternative Dispute Resolution Assistance Scheme (ADRAS).

Under WorkChoices, employers and employees have a choice between referring certain disputes to a private alternative dispute resolution provider or the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) for assistance.

Eligible applicants will be able to access up to $1,500 (inclusive of GST) of alternative dispute resolution services per dispute.  As well, up to $500 (inclusive of GST) will be available to meet reasonable travel expenses where an alternative dispute resolution provider is required to travel to help people in regional or remote areas.

Australian Energy Regulator (AER)

This industry scheme ensures that the National Electricity Market dispute resolution processes operate effectively to the benefit of market stakeholders. In the first instance it is about market participants’ resolving their own disputes using a dispute management system that has been developed by the participants. The National Electricity Market dispute resolution regime has been developed to be simple, quick and inexpensive, and to preserve relationships between industry participants while observing the rules of natural justice.

When disputes arise, the National Electricity Rules prescribe a two stage process for ADR. Stage 1 involves an internal, consensual dispute resolution process within the disputants’ organisations. If the dispute is not resolved, the process moves to Stage 2, which involves either the parties agreeing to the Adviser , in consultation with the parties, customising a process to suit the dispute, or, in the absence of agreement, the Adviser referring the dispute to a dispute resolution panel.

Telecommunications Industry – Service providers Industry Association

SPAN is the only telecommunications association representing the interests of Telecommunications Service Providers, and has been doing so since 1993. SPAN members are Australia’s leading carriers, carriage service providers and content providers and their support organisations such as equipment and technology suppliers, consultants, legal and professional services.

SPAN’s aim is to promote effective competition and quality service delivery in the industry and to work with members, regulators and policymakers to promote and demonstrate these outcomes. The flowing information is published on the resolution@span website.  The aim of this industry scheme is to provide:

  • A greater range of options for the industry in resolving disputes between service providers.
  • Flexible dispute resolution options which meet the needs of the participants.
  • A shift in the industry culture, away from an adversarial approach and towards collaborative business discussions.
  • Low cost, low impact options before considering more costly and formal processes for dispute resolution.
  • Assistance in structuring large group and industry discussions.
  • Refined skills for doing better deals.

Motor Vehicle Insurance and Repair Industry Code of Conduct

Dispute Resolution Process – The Code provides for two dispute resolution processes, depending on the type of dispute. The Code deals with internal dispute resolution (IDR) and is designed to deal with disputes that arise prior to commencement or completion of repair. These type of disputes will revolve mainly around issues relating to methods of repair, but does not include disputes relating to amounts paid for repair.

IDR is the insurer’s own internal dispute resolution process. Each insurer signatory’s process may differ slightly, but in all cases the process will be prompt, fair and transparent.  The AMA can assist with the resolution of your dispute.

Other industry and Government ADR schemes in Australia.

  • Workers Compensation Conciliation Schemes
  • New South Wales Workers Compensation Resolution Service
  • Northern Territory Rehabilitation and Compensation Unit
  • South Australian Workers Compensation Tribunal
  • Victorian Workcover Conciliation Service
  • Western Australia Conciliation & Review Directorate (Workcover)

Industry Consumer Schemes

Australian private sector schemes include –

  • Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman (ABIO)
  • Private Health Insurance Industry Ombudsman (PHIIO)
  • Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT)
  • Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), discussed in more detail here
  • Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman
  • Credit Union Dispute Resolution Centre
  • Financial Industry Complaints Scheme
  • Insurance Brokers Dispute Facility
  • General Insurance Enquiries and Complaints Scheme
  • Mortgage Industry Association Ombudsman Scheme (MIOS), managed by the Australian Commercial Disputes Resolution Centre
  • National Furnishing Industry Association of Australia
  • Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON)
  • SA Electricity Industry Ombudsman
  • Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV)

Government Ombudsmen

Australian government ombudsmen are:

  • Commonwealth Ombudsman (COA)
  • Australian Capital Territory Ombudsman (ACTO)
  • New South Wales Ombudsman (NSWO)
  • Northern Territory Ombudsman (NTO)
  • Queensland Ombudsman (QO)
  • South Australian Ombudsman (SAO)
  • Tasmanian Ombudsman (TO)
  • Victorian Ombudsman (VO)
  • Western Australian Parliamentary Commissioner for Administrative Investigations (PCAS)

Health Care Complaints Schemes

Health sector ADR bodies include –

  • ACT Community & Health Services Complaints Commissioner
  • New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission and Health Conciliation Registry
  • Northern Territory Health & Community Services Complaints Commission
  • Queensland Health Rights Commission
  • Tasmania Health Complaints Commissioner
  • Victoria Health Services Commissioner
  • Western Australia Office of Health Review

Community

Most states/territories have community dispute resolution services. These include –

  • Australian Capital Territory Conflict Resolution Service
  • New South Wales Community Justice Centres
  • Queensland Dispute Resolution Centres
  • Southern Community Justice Centre (South Australia)
  • Norwood Community Legal Service (South Australia)
  • Bowden Brompton Community Legal Service – Western Mediation Service (South Australia)
  • Tasmania Positive Solutions (PS)
  • Victoria Department of Justice Alternative Dispute Resolution Services (Dispute Settlement Centres Victoria)
  • Bunbury Community Mediation Service (Western Australia)
  • Albany Community Legal Centre (Western Australia)
  • Aboriginal ADR Service

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