Anne Paten is the President of the Victorian Building Action Group Inc, the only building consumer organisation in the country actively involved in articulating the plight of consumers. She is a well-known, highly respected consumer and public interest advocate who for the past ten years has worked on behalf of all Australian consumers, raising the fact that they have no consumer rights or human rights and highlighting other critical issues in the public interest. She has assisted individual building consumers by providing information otherwise not available to them and represented many owners embroiled in disputes through meeting with their builders, as well as appearing at the Building List of the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal.
Having been a victim of systemic injustice and suffered some of the devastating consequences that impact 250,000 Victorian consumers each year and around 1 million Australians annually, Anne’s personal experience motivated her to explore how systemic failure was established, why it was allowed to become endemic and ultimately to finding out that the system was designed by those who are its beneficiaries. This led her on the path to seek public policy reform.
Anne researches widely on all building and construction issues. She regularly makes submissions to ministers, government agencies and parliamentary inquiries at both the State and federal levels and has appeared as a witness at a number of inquiries. She is a prolific writer and, when permitted, she speaks out in the media to voice consumer and community concerns on the broad spectrum of problems within the building and construction industry.
Anne is deeply concerned about the lack of protection for consumers and the absence of consumer consultation and representation on Government boards and committees throughout the country. Foremost, she is calling for urgent reform to the legal system and administrative governance arrangements pertaining to the building industry. She has highlighted the need for a strong regulatory regime, including proper enforcement and penalties for those who have no regard for building quality, standards or safety. She has drawn attention to the failures of the current workplace safety framework, including the unacceptably high number of worker fatalities and serious injuries, as well as the increasing threat of industrial disease, all of which are enabled through a lack of enforcement of workplace safety legislation. She has exposed the issue of non-payment of subcontractors, which has damaged so many individuals and families.
Since there is no political will to end the ‘no rules’ regime, with the official commitment to continue to deliver worse outcomes every year, Anne is currently working with some like-minded people from industry in the pursuit of forcing change from the bottom up and ending this horrendous man-made disaster.