I am a special needs telecommunications customer—what are my rights? | ACMA

I am a special needs telecommunications customer—what are my rights?

If you have special needs, such as:

  1. a disability that affects your capacity to understand or operate telecommunications goods and services

  2. you live in a rural or remote area

  3. you have a life threatening illness

  4. English is your second language

  5. you are disadvantaged due to socio-economic circumstances

  6. you are an older customer

your service provider has an obligation to deal with you in certain ways that allow you access to their goods and services and to be heard.

Your service provider must interact with you in a way that is appropriate to your communication needs. Once you have identified a particular need, your service provider must indicate whether it has a suitable product or give you information so that you can assess whether the product will meet your need. You may also choose to have a friend, relative or other representative deal with a service provider on your behalf.


A service provider must offer its products and services in a way that complies with the Disability Discrimination Act. Websites of service providers should also comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Equipment Suppliers need to provide product information that is clear and comprehensible to assist both you and your service provider to identify equipment features that will meet your communication needs as well as provide information on the functional characteristics of their customer equipment used with a standard telephone service.

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the National Relay Service (NRS) to make and receive telephone calls.

Rural and remote customers

As a rural and remote customer, you may be concerned about mobile coverage. NBN Co Ltd provides an interim satellite service through its retail service providers to initially target those customers without access to a commercial metro-comparable broadband service. For further information you can call the NBN Co Information Line on 1800 881 816 or go to the NBN Co website.

Life-threatening illness

If you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition and depend on a reliable, fixed-line home telephone service, you may be eligible for priority assistance. If you complain, your service provider needs to treat it as an urgent complaint, which means it must—in most circumstances—be resolved within two business days.

English as a second language

Your service provider has a duty to ensure that its sales representatives can communicate with you effectively in English and to use plain language whenever possible in its contracts. If your service provider advertises its services in another language, it has a duty to provide reasonable information to assist people speaking those languages. This may include you appointing an advocate to deal with your service provider on your behalf.

Disadvantaged / vulnerable customers

Your service provider must take reasonable steps to cater for the needs of disadvantaged or vulnerable customers, including training its sales representatives on how to interact with you appropriately.

If you complain about the amount owing on your account, your service provider can't take credit management action about the disputed amount while the matter is being investigated and the issue remains unresolved. Your provider cannot proceed with debt collection action against you without first following the credit-management rules set out in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.

If you are having trouble paying your bill, you may be able to access your service provider’s financial hardship policy.

If you have applied for or been accepted as being in financial hardship under your provider’s financial hardship policy and you complain, your provider needs to treat it as an urgent complaint. This means it must—in most circumstances—be resolved within two business days. 


For more information about anything in this fact sheet, contact your service provider. If you remain dissatisfied after dealing with your service provider, you can contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).

Last updated: 23 November 2016