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Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and University of Melbourne deliver online consumer law course for ASEAN officials

ASEAN , 07 April 2022

Melbourne, 7 April 2022 – Fourteen participants representing the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection participated in the inaugural ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Consumer Affairs Program’s (CAP) “CAP Scholars”. CAP Scholars completed a ten-day customised online consumer law course with the University of Melbourne on 14–24 March 2022.

CAP Scholars

The course covered the rationale behind consumer protection law, its role in supporting effective markets, and the various methods adopted to protect consumers and enforce their rights. Professor Philip Clarke delivered lectures and tutorials on topics such as false and misleading conduct, unfair contract terms, and e-commerce consumer protection. Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) lawyers also participated to provide implementation insights. Participants engaged deeply with the content and shared comparative insights from their jurisdiction in tutorials each day.

Dr Barbara King, ACCC Assistant Director, opened CAP Scholars highlighting, “The growth of agency-to-agency links, knowledge sharing, and technical cooperation through the AANZFTA continues to grow. We are delighted to see ASEAN officials undertake this subject. Understanding the various consumer laws in place in our region facilitates cross-border cooperation, supporting better outcomes for consumers in our region.”

Evaluation data revealed strong learning outcomes. After the course, 72 per cent of officials reported that their understanding of the differences and similarities between ASEAN and Australian consumer laws was strong, and 18 per cent described it as adequate. This is an improvement from pre-course surveys where 65 per cent said weak, and 35 per cent said adequate. Similarly, after the course, 90 per cent of participants rated their ability to implement knowledge of consumer law into their work as either strong or very strong, compared to 50 per cent in pre-course surveying.    

Professor Philip Clarke said of the program, “The Australian Consumer Law is complex, and I was greatly impressed by the attention to its detail and the understanding of its policy underpinnings and intricacies shown by the officials participating in the program. Hearing the representatives of the various ASEAN Member States apply their learning to the tutorial questions each day inspired great admiration for regional consumer enforcers. I am keen to follow the careers of these officials and consumer law developments in ASEAN.”

AANZFTA CAP is delivered with support from the AANZFTA Economic Cooperation Support Programme (AECSP) and in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat. For further information, please contact the AANZFTA Support Unit at aanzfta_inquiry@asean.org or the AANZFTA CAP Team at cap@accc.gov.au.