- About the TIO
- Board Chair message
- Ombudsman's message
- Director's report
- Strategy and progress
About the TIO
The TIO deals with complaints about telephone and internet services that consumers have been unable to resolve with their provider.
We are a national service for personal and small business consumers in Australia. There are no charges for consumers to use our service.
Read about the types of complaints we handle.
Vision and roles
Our vision is to deliver an exceptional telecommunications dispute resolution service for consumers and service providers. We aim to contribute to better customer service and complaint handling in the telecommunications industry.
Our roles are:
- resolving disputes
- improving telecommunications services
- being an independent voice, and
- leading by example.
20 years of dispute resolution
The TIO was established in 1993 when the telecommunications industry was opened to competition. Providers were required to fund and become members of an Ombudsman service to resolve consumer complaints outside of courts. Since then, we have helped resolve more than 1.8 million complaints and witnessed the industry grow from three providers to more than a thousand.
In 2013 and 2014, we celebrated our 20th anniversary with a series of stakeholder and staff events. More than 150 representatives from industry, government and consumer groups attended a forum in April 2014. Speakers looked back at the TIO’s history, reflected on its current place in the telecommunications industry and discussed the future of alternative dispute resolution. Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull, who spoke at the forum’s reception, commended the TIO on its 20-year track record.
We also held a series of roundtable meetings with service providers and consumer representatives, and produced a commemorative publication, The History of the TIO.
We are a not-for-profit organisation, and charge a fee to a telecommunications company when one of its customers makes a complaint to us. Those fees cover the cost of our work in handling the complaints and our operations.
Read more about fees charged to providers.
Board Chair message
As Independent Chair of the new Board of Directors, I am pleased to report to stakeholders of Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Limited.
There have been significant developments at the TIO in 2013-14. Not only did we celebrate 20 years of independent telecommunications dispute resolution, the members also approved the adoption of a new unitary governance framework, appointing the new Board at a general meeting in February 2014. The move to unitary governance was the final and fitting achievement of the previous TIO Board and TIO Council.
As at the date of this report, the new Board has met six times, with the first meeting immediately following the general meeting.
Establishing a new internal governance framework has been a high priority. The Board has adopted a new Charter and formed three important committees: Audit and Risk, chaired by Independent Director Jane Harvey; and Nominations and People Committees chaired by me. Charters for all three Committees have also been approved.
The Audit and Risk, and People Committees met in May and June. The Nominations Committee, the only Board Committee to have external representation, will convene shortly to consider applicants for Board vacancies arising in February 2015. I welcome Johanna Plante, Chair of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), and John Stanton, CEO of Communications Alliance, as members of the Nominations Committee.
The Board engages with smaller telecommunications service providers at least once every six months. For this purpose, roundtable discussions are being programmed at locations throughout Australia on an ongoing basis.
On behalf of my fellow Directors I express our gratitude for the considerable personal commitment of Directors and Council members in bringing the new governance model to fruition. In particular, the Board recognises the contribution of my predecessor, John Rohan, who celebrated his own anniversary in 2013 marking 20 years of service to the TIO. Thanks also go to Andrew Dyer, who retired as Chair of the TIO Council on the commencement of unitary governance, as well as to all outgoing Board and Council members.
The Board acknowledges the considerable achievements of Ombudsman Simon Cohen and Deputy Ombudsman Diane Carmody, together with the executive team, in managing the TIO Scheme. We also thank the dedicated TIO staff for their contribution throughout the year.
Finally, sincere thanks go to my fellow Directors for their professionalism and diligence. I look forward to working with my Board colleagues, and the wider organisation, in 2014-15.
New governance structure
The governance structure of TIO Limited changed on 26 February 2014 when members voted to adopt governance by a single Board. Before then, the TIO was governed by a Board and a Council.
A new Company Constitution replaced the former Articles of Association, while the previous Constitution was renamed Terms of Reference. The jurisdiction and day-to-day operations of the TIO remain unchanged.
Role of the Board
The Board is responsible for managing the business affairs and property of TIO Limited in accordance with the Company Constitution and the Terms of Reference.
The Board is made up of:
- three independent directors, one of whom is also the Independent Chair
- four directors with consumer experience, and
- four directors with industry experience.
Appointment of Directors
When members voted in favour of replacing Board and Council, some Directors and Councillors retired and others were reappointed to the new Board. Two new independent Directors (including the Independent Chair) were appointed upon the recommendation of a selection committee that included representatives from the previous Board and Council, peak industry body Communications Alliance, and consumer group Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.
The Board has established the following committees to help it perform its duties and allow it to consider complex issues:
- Audit and Risk Committee: assists and advises the Board on the TIO's internal and external audit, risk and finance management frameworks.
- Nominations Committee: identifies and recommends to the Board persons to fill vacant Board positions.
- People Committee: has oversight over the remuneration of Directors and the Ombudsman, and the TIO's employment policies.
Ethical and responsible decision making
Conflicts of interest and personal interests
The Board maintains a register of personal interests that is reviewed at every Board meeting. Related party transactions are listed in our Directors' Report.
We have adopted a Conflict of Interest Policy that outlines processes for employees to deal with conflict of interest issues. Under the policy, employees are expected to behave with honesty, transparency, integrity and fairness in dealing with our stakeholders, other employees and the public.
Confidentiality and privacy
Feedback about the TIO
Consumers and service providers may make formal compliments or complaints about the service they receive.
In 2013-14, we received 56 compliments about the courtesy, professionalism and timeliness of TIO officers.
We received 45 formal complaints about our service compared to 58 in 2012-13. Of those, 16 were found to be substantiated, compared to 10 the previous year.
The Directors' Report is a comprehensive review of TIO Limited's operations as reported by the Board of Directors and includes our financial statements.
Download the TIO financial report PDF.
Strategy and progress
We aim to resolve telecommunications disputes in an accessible, independent, fair, efficient, responsive and effective way.
- accreditation of Graduate Certificate in Dispute Resolution
- establishing more flexible teams to better manage high demand in our service
- improved timeliness
- high consumer and service provider satisfaction
- low review rates
- 90% of new complaints referred within one business day
- 88% of conciliations finalised within 30 days
- 90% consumer satisfaction with complaint handling
Improving telecommunications services
We help providers to improve their services by engaging with them and identifying systemic issues.
- Business Intelligence tool implemented
- online education modules for providers developed
- timely analysis of complaint trends
- effective response to systemic issues
- high service provider satisfaction
- 73 systemic interventions
Being and independent voice
We provide high-quality information that is useful to industry, the community and regulators.
- publication of award-winning annual report
- 17 submissions to inquiries on issues affecting consumers and the telco industry
- consumer awareness
- high stakeholder satisfaction
- referral of non-compliance
- 57% awareness among intermediaries working with Indigenous consumers in remote areas
- 97% stakeholder satisfaction with TIO relationship
- 22 service providers referred to ACMA for non-compliance with the TIO
Leading by example
We are innovative, adaptable, collaborative, responsive, resilient and forward-thinking. We value our people and support their skills development.
- 2013-16 enterprise agreement settled
- wiki-based new intranet
- strong staff engagement
- delivery of key business projects
- sound financial management
- 89% of staff voted in favour of enterprise agreement
- deployed 41 enhancements to complaints management system
- financial results consistent with budget senstivity analysis
Media release - TIO reports on NBN-related complaints