The dispute resolution service FOS provides is a free and accessible alternative to going to court. Although consumers do not need any sort of legal or other representation to come to us, we recognise that some may prefer to have someone lodge their dispute for them or act on their behalf during the dispute resolution process.
Consumer advocates, including financial counsellors, legal aid and community lawyers, serve a vital role by providing free, community-based financial counselling, legal aid and casework assistance to anyone experiencing money problems.
We work closely with these consumer representative organisations and their support networks to ensure that our service meets their clients’ needs. For more information about our Consumer Engagement Strategy.
Financial counsellors provide assistance, advocacy and information to people experiencing financial difficulty. Financial counselling services are based in community agencies and are funded largely by either Commonwealth or State government.
The terms ‘financial counsellor’ and ‘financial counselling’ are legally protected. Membership and accreditation standards for financial counsellors are set by State and Territory financial counselling associations, who are members of Financial Counselling Australia:
- Financial Counsellors ACT
- Financial Counsellors Association of New South Wales
- Financial Counsellors Association of Queensland
- Money Workers Association of the NT
- Financial Counsellors Association of Western Australia
- South Australian Financial Counsellors' Association
- Financial and Consumer Rights Council
- Financial Counselling Tasmania
There are eight independent legal aid commissions in Australia, whose services are predominantly funded by the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments. Legal aid commissions provide information, advice and case work assistance for socially and economically disadvantaged people. National Legal Aid represents the Directors of each of the eight State and Territory legal aid commissions in Australia:
- Legal Aid ACT
- Legal Aid New South Wales
- Legal Aid Queensland
- Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission
- Legal Aid Western Australia
- Legal Services Commission of South Australia
- Victoria Legal Aid
- Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania
Community Legal Centres
Community Legal Centres (CLCs) provide legal services for people who face economic, social or cultural disadvantage. The State and Territory peak bodies of CLCs are members of the National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc:
- ACT Association of Community Legal Centres
- Community Legal Centres NSW Inc
- Northern Territory Association of Community Legal Centres Inc
- Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services Inc
- South Australian Council of Community Legal Services Inc
- Tasmanian Association of Community Legal Centres Inc
- Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria) Inc
- Community Legal Centres Association (WA) Inc