$1.5 million to support vulnerable customers impacted by COVID

Priority #BetterTogether – Cost of Living
Thousands of Australians most impacted by COVID-19 will receive vital help to better manage their energy bills and access support programs. Energy Charter signatories today committed more than $1.5 million over the next 12 months to deliver and augment a range of programs across Australia, including with community organisations, to step up support for customers in vulnerable circumstances.

Energy Charter CEO Council Chair Frank Tudor (MD Jemena) said the funding commitment included additional support programs for vulnerable customers.

“The ongoing impacts of COVID are seeing the most vulnerable members of our community hit hardest,” Mr Tudor said.

“As signatories to the Energy Charter we recognise the need to provide further assistance above and beyond our existing support programs to ensure more disadvantaged Australians can keep the lights on.” 

“Our 12 month COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability research conducted by Deloitte, shows that renters, JobSeekers, young people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD) are feeling the greatest impacts of COVID.

“The research shows that 27 per cent of respondents who need energy bill support aren’t confident to obtain it, with 12 per cent saying they didn’t receive support because they didn’t know how to access it.

“Increased funding will assist individuals, families and small businesses to better access concessions and government rebates and help manage their ongoing energy usage.

“Support will be delivered directly by Energy Charter signatories or in partnership with community groups across Australia to get the help to where it’s needed most in the quickest way. Other programs will support customers and communities with access to other essential support.”

Support measures include:

  • A new Uniting Energy Support Program focused on delivering tailored, one-on-one advice and assistance to energy customers across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
  • Care Inc. Energy Support Voucher Program in the Australian Capital Territory.
  • Implementation of dedicated customer relationship officers and provision of pre-payment opt-in products in regional Western Australia.
  • Dedicated hardship support for business owners in Tasmania.
  • Online energy literacy and easy to digest information on how to reduce and understand electricity bills for energy users in Queensland.
  • Essential care packages to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • A range of community partnership programs including with Food Bank, Food Share and other local charities.

Mr Tudor said the support measures build on previous programs and initiatives delivered in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, including the Energy Network Relief Package, Covid19 Support Fund in Tasmania, and the Voices for Power energy literacy “Train the Trainer” program in Western Sydney.

“Energy Charter signatories have a long history of supporting vulnerable customers – particularly in partnership with community organisations – and it is fantastic to see these programs continuing to mature throughout the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.”  

Energy Charter signatories providing new levels of support to customers facing vulnerability include: ActewAGL, Aurora Energy, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), APA Group, CS Energy, EnergyAustralia, Energy Queensland including Energex, Ergon Energy Network, Ergon Retail and Yurika, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy, Horizon Power, Jemena, Powerlink Queensland, Powershop/Meridian Energy and TransGrid. The support will cover electricity and gas customers in New South Wales (including Western Sydney), Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.

Ongoing support programs are being delivered by Ausgrid and Stanwell.

Uniting Energy Support Program

The Uniting Energy Support Program is focused on delivering tailored, one-on-one advice and assistance to energy customers across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria by community organisation Uniting. Over $200,000 is being injected into the program by APA Group, CS Energy, EnergyAustralia, Energy Queensland, Endeavour Energy, Essential Energy, Jemena, Powerlink Queensland and Powershop/Meridian Energy.

“The collaboration across Energy Charter businesses to support community organisations like Uniting is a step change for customers facing vulnerability. Not only does it create a sustainable approach for ongoing support programs, it also aligns the energy supply chain in a way that we have not seen before. Uniting is proud to be working with Energy Charter businesses in supporting those in the community who need it the most.” – Matt Cairns, Senior Manager, Uniting Vic. Tas.

COVID-19 Customer Vulnerability research

Four quarterly waves of research into COVID-19 customer vulnerability were conducted by Deloitte from September 2020-2021. The most recent wave (September 2021) found that:

  • Two thirds of respondents have growing concerns about impacts COVID and there are increasing stress and depression levels
  • Employment conditions have worsened: with one third of respondents have experienced a decrease in household income. Discretionary spending has dropped significantly.
  • 27 per cent of respondents who need energy bill support aren’t confident to obtain it. 12 per cent of those respondents said that they didn’t receive support because they didn’t know how to access it.
The Energy Charter

A national CEO-lead collaboration that supports the energy sector towards a customer-centric future. Our core values of “Be invested, make a difference”, “Be open, learn and improve”, and “Think big, be bold” are brought to life through #BetterTogether initiatives focused on delivering better customer outcomes for all Australians.

Full Signatories: ActewAGL, APA Group, Aurora Energy, Ausgrid, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), CS Energy, Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland Limited including Energex, Ergon Energy Network, Ergon Retail and Yurika, EnergyAustralia, Essential Energy, Horizon Power, Jemena & Ovida, Meridian Energy Australia & Powershop Australia, Powerlink Queensland, Stanwell and TransGrid.  

#BetterTogether Collaborator: Simply Energy.

Energy Charter Supporter: Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sabiene Heindl
Executive Director
The Energy Charter
E: director@theenergycharter.com
M: 0412 039 747