Better support for consumers with cognitive disabilities

Supporting consumers and assisting industry to develop practices and processes to support consumers with disabilities.

The practices of telecommunications and utilities providers in relation to consumers with disability have come under growing scrutiny from consumer watchdogs, advocacy groups, and the media in recent times, with the ACCC identifying conduct that detrimentally affects consumers with disabilities as one of its 2017 compliance and enforcement priority areas. In partnership with retailers in the electricity, water, and telecommunications sectors, University of Melbourne researchers are undertaking a research project to develop, in consultation with consumers, clear, best-practice guidance on supporting consumers at different stages of transactions and assist industry to develop practices and processes that comply with the ACCC’s compliance guide for dealing with consumers with disabilities.

The research team is working with seven industry partners who are involved in the new Thriving Communities Partnership, a collaboration of essential service providers to improve access to services for all Australians.

The seven partner organisations are Telstra, EnergyAustralia, Origin Energy, City West Water, South East Water, Yarra Valley Water and AGL.


Bernadette McSherry [Melbourne Social Equity Institute]

Jeannie Paterson [Melbourne Law School]

Lisa Brophy [Melbourne School of Population and Global Health]

Anna Arstein-Kerslake [Melbourne Law School]

Yvette Maker [Melbourne Social Equity Institute]


Improving Access and Support Research Report

The 48-page report produced by University of Melbourne researchers, including legal analysis, guidelines for improving access and support, and links to further information.

Download: Download the Research Report (PDF)

Download: Download the Research Report (Accessible Word)

Improving Access and Support – Top Five Tips for Retailers

A short information booklet to support retailers and their staff to make their practices and processes more accessible for consumers with cognitive disabilities.

Download: Download the Top Five Tips(PDF)

Download: Download the Toolkit (Accessible Word)

Improving Access and Support – Easy English Summary

An easy-to-read summary of the project.

Download: Download the Easy English Report (PDF)

Download: Download the Easy English Report (Accessible Word)


Yvette Maker and Jeannie Marie Paterson, ‘How Can Retailers Improve Access and Outcomes for Consumers with Cognitive Disabilities?Power to Persuade, Monday 26 August 2019. Republished from the Consumer Policy Research Centre Blog,  Sunday 18 August 2019.

Yvette Maker, Interview on City Limits, 3CR Radio, Wednesday 10 April 2019.

Yvette Maker and Jeannie Marie Paterson, ‘Making Information Accessible – For Everyone’, Pursuit,  Wednesday 19 December 2018.