Faculty of Law

Consumer Research Unit

Shoppping basket with vegetables

The Unit provides an independent voice on consumer issues.

The Unit aims to improve the understanding of consumer markets and consumer protection frameworks.

The Consumer Research Unit offers short courses and workshops in current consumer law issues.

Recent and upcoming events

Publication of Consumer Law and Policy in Australia and New Zealand – Federation Press

Three members of the Consumer Research Unit: Aviva Freilich, Nyuk Nahan and Eileen Webb are among 14 Consumer Law experts invited to contribute to Consumer Policy in Australia and New Zealand. This book, edited by Professors Luke Nottage (Faculty of Law, The University of Sydney) and Justin Malbon (Faculty of Law (Monash University), provides an advanced and wide-ranging analysis of current consumer law issues.

In summary, the publication examines the ‘Australian Consumer Law’ reform package in a broad context and compares it to recent reform initiatives especially in New Zealand. It considers consumer law developments in other economies including the European Union, Japan, Canada and the United States, as well as parallel re-regulation of consumer credit and other financial markets impacting on consumers. The book also examines policy considerations and market transformations, as well as the often complex legislative history associated with recent consumer law reform proposals in Australia and New Zealand. Specific areas covered include: definitions of ‘consumers’, comparative consumer law reform, statutory guarantees and controls over unfair terms in consumer contracts, regulation of unconscionable conduct, a possible general prohibition of ‘unfair practices’, product liability and safety regulation, responsible lending and ‘hardship’ provisions for consumer credit, consumer banking and financial advice, protections for vulnerable consumers, interest rate caps, dispute resolution, regulatory powers and e-commerce.

For more details see Federation Press

Roundtable  Forum: Health Wealth and Hearth: Perspectives on an Ageing Australia

On 13-14 February 2013 the Consumer Research Unit, hosted a multidisciplinary round table titled Health, Wealth and Hearth: Perspectives on an Ageing Australia. The round table was supported by the Institute of Advanced Studies, UWA. The round table brought together experts and practitioners with a specialization in seniors medical, financial and housing issues and concerns.

Guest presenters included Professor Norah Keating, (University of Alberta) and Professor Lorna Fox-O'Mahoney (Durham University). Associated with the roundtable were a public lecture by Professor Norah Keating titled: Friendly for Whom? Rethinking aged friendly communities. (LINK) The lecture was extremely well attended with attendees filling the Webb Lecture Theatre. Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony  presented a Masterclass: Ageing, Inequalities, and (Financial)Vulnerabilities (LINK) that was attended by post graduate students from a variety of disciplines. Again this event was very well attended with the maximum of 25 places taken up a week before the Masterclass.

Conference Presentation

Eileen Webb has been invited to present at the 2014 International Elder Law and Policy Conference which will be held on Thursday July 10 and Friday July 11 in Chicago.

Research News

ADVOCACY groups say Western Australia's seniors are suffering the worst of the rental crisis.
Herald Sun
  March 18, 2013

Eileen Webb has recently published several articles in The Conversation.

Research Projects

Seniors downsizing on their own terms: overcoming planning, legal and policy impediments to the creation of alternative retirement communities.

The Consumer Research Unit is undertaking research, funded by a National Seniors Australia Productive Ageing Grant, to determine whether more Seniors would choose to downsize if there was a greater variety of housing options available within existing communities. The research seeks to determine ‘what seniors want’ and get their thoughts on new housing concepts, for example pocket communities, that are starting to emerge.  

Do WA's housing laws support our ageing population?
The Consumer Research Unit and Council of the Ageing WA received $225,000 funding from Lotterywest to undertake the research.
Chief investigator Associate Professor Eileen Webb, from UWA Law School's Consumer Research Unit, said researchers would talk to seniors, carers, agencies and other stakeholders to identify housing and other accommodation-related issues. 

For further information about the project visit the webpage.  The research project findings will be released in mid 2014.

Seniors housing in rural and regional Western Australia and Alberta
This ongoing research examines the distinctive housing concerns impacting on seniors in rural and regional areas in Western Australia and Alberta.  In conjunction with the Faculty of Human Ecology, University of Alberta, Consumer Research Unit researchers will engage in a comparison between housing and accommodation laws in the two jurisdictions.

Research Publications