Sustineo was engaged in 2014 to develop public awareness models for consumer protection to be relevant to the ASEAN region. The project aims to support a systematic approach towards consumer education in ASEAN covering a range of consumer constituencies, issues, delivery systems and appraisal procedures. The key project outputs include the models for enhancing awareness of consumer protection and guidelines for their use.
Our approach focused on high quality research from leading academics in the field, and used a theoretical framework to develop the most useful and conceptually rigorous public awareness models for consumer protection. This was complemented by substantive engagement with the key stakeholders and constituents in the sector to ensure that the products were as flexible and practical as possible to guarantee their relevance for a broad range of audiences.
The development of the public awareness models were informed by an extensive literature review of peer reviewed and government literature and assessment on best practice in consumer protection. Field trips were conducted in Cambodia, Indonesia and Singapore to investigate consumer protection issues within the ASEAN, and ensure the models would be adaptive to the Southeast Asian context. The models and guidelines for use were presented and critiqued through two validation workshops, conducted in Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia.
Throughout the project, the Sustineo team emphasised clear and open communication with ASEAN to ensure that project outputs were practical, relevant and useful. Underpinning our approach in this project were the principles of genuine interaction, inclusion and participation. Our approach was complemented by our capacity to source experts in consumer protection from law, education and communication disciplines.
Sustineo’s impact with key officials and stakeholders in the consumer protection sector in ASEAN Member States became evident very quickly through active and substantive engagement with the subject matter. Stakeholders were enthused by the approach used by Sustineo, which acknowledged the different levels of capacity, capability and experience within the ASEAN regions and the need for targeting of marginal groups of consumers within individual countries. Stakeholders were pleased that the Sustineo team was able to identify that in many places the necessary consumer protection policy and practices existed and were well regarded but that regulation needed to be improved. The consultative approach taken throughout the project ensured that the products developed were useful and would allow governments to plan and develop programs to increase public awareness regarding consumer issues.