July 2024 News Update

In the July 2024 news update, we share the Melbourne Institute Report on the Energy Charter’s National Concessions Awareness and Engagement Campaign “Keep the Money. It’s Yours.” which showed that the message of energy concessions eligibility is getting out, however there’s more that can be done.

We are also pleased to share progress across a number of our social licence #BetterTogether initiatives including our 3rd National Landholder Engagement Training, the Better Practice Social Licence Guideline: 12-month Independent Review funded by Energy Consumer Australia, through RE-Alliance and progress on the Queensland Renewable Energy Code in response to the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commission Community Engagement Review continues at pace.

June 2024 News Update

In the June 2024 news update, we warmly welcome our new Director, Energy Transition Heather Wagland! Heather joins the small but mighty team at the Energy Charter, bringing a passion for social impact and extensive experience in the energy sector. 

We also celebrated being announced the winner of the Shared Value Project Innovation Award for our Knock to Stay Connected Customer Code.

We kicked off the first #BetterTogether Qld Renewable Energy Code workshop to begin the co-design process with senior leaders from across Industry Collaborators and the Community/Customer Outcomes Group, independently facilitated by a human-centred design expert.

You can now also register your interest for our 3rd National Landholder Engagement Training will be held on 2, 3 and 4 September and aims to support those engaging with landholders and communities on renewable energy development to do their job well and support better shared value outcomes. 

Read more about these updates in our June News Update.

May 2024 News Update

In the May 2024 news update, read more about our partnership with the Queensland Renewable Energy Council to bring renewable developers, agricultural, local government, conservation, First Nations and other community collaborators together to co-design the initial design of the Renewable Energy Code.

Last month, we also had the privilege of meeting the Lived Experience Panel for Life Support in the Home. A big thank you to Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) for supporting this important work.

The Energy Charter has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Shared Value Project Innovation Awards for the Knock to Stay Connected Customer Code, with winners announced on 9 May!

Our 2024 Accountability Guidance was published with guidance from our End-User Consultative Group.

Read more about these updates in our May News Update.

April 2024 News Update

In the April 2024 news update, annual Disclosures were published by EnergyAustralia and SA Power Networks, our CEO Council met in Sydney with special guests Brendan French, CEO Energy Consumers Australia and Louise Pogmore, Energy Partner KPMG. Our conversations centred on collaboration opportunities for energy transition and cost-of-living supports.

We also launched the Energy Charter Impact Framework: an important step in the right direction to align our #BetterTogether initiatives with tangible impacts for those in our communities. Our Impact Framework brings to focus the “so what?” factor that needs to drive both our commitments and outcomes.

Why does impact matter?

The importance of defining, measuring and communicating the impact of our work through an Impact Framework is an essential ingredient for delivering better outcomes for customers and communities.

We were thrilled to be joined by Tracy Collier, Founder and Director Action with Impact, Ciara Sterling, CEO Thriving Communities Partnership and Sabiene Heindl, our CEO, for a panel discussion hosted by Bec Jolly, our Director of Collaboration exploring the important impact in our collaborative work.

What is impact?

As part of this panel discussion, Tracy Collier shared what impact is and how impact measurement can form the basis for the work we do, identifying whether what we are doing is having the impact we’re hoping for. 

“It’s really about understanding the effects and changes that are occurring because of our work and who is being impacted by it … by measuring our impact, we can start to understand how [or if] our work is actually having the impact we hope it will.”

“Everything we do as humans and organisations, all of our decisions and our actions, have an impact on other people and the planet. Impact can be positive or negative … it exists whether we want to put it in an Impact Framework or not … however, you can’t change what you can’t see.”

Measuring impact allows us to:

  • Understand the value that we have on our customers and communities
  • Learn and  try new things
  • Test our assumptions for the work we do. 

Why did we develop the Energy Charter Impact Framework?

We were excited to officially launch the Energy Charter Impact Framework during this online session! 

Sabiene shared the reasons behind why we wanted to measure our collective impact.

“We’re busy running, all day, every day. Sometimes we don’t have time to look up and say ‘why are we doing this stuff?’ We all come into our work at the Energy Charter with making customer and community lives better, but do we actually know if that’s what it’s leading to? … The question is: what is the actual impact on the humans on the ground?” 

Sabiene encouraged the need for us all to have the ‘hold up the mirror’ conversation, to take time to understand why are you doing what you’re doing and seeing if you’re having the impact you think you’re working towards.

Tracy reflected “At the Energy Charter, it’s about better customer and community outcomes, so the Impact Framework helps to define what those outcomes are and how do we know we’re achieving those.”

We knew that we wanted our Impact Framework to be an evidence-based process, created to understand, measure and communicate the impact of our collective work. 

Tracy went on to share that “while working with the Energy Charter, we learnt that there really is benefit around the #BetterTogether initiatives and how it provides a space and a process for people to go from ‘hard-to-do’ challenges to ‘we can do this together’.”

Energy Charter Impact Framework overview

The Energy Charter Impact Framework has been designed to help us define, measure and communicate the impact of the collective work of the Energy Charter for customers and communities throughout our #BetterTogether initiatives.

To learn more, watch the short video below of Tracy explaining the high-level steps of our Impact Framework or jump over to our Impact Framework page for more details on each step. 

Benefits of focusing on impact for the energy sector

Within the Energy Charter, Sabiene explained that we will be using our Impact Framework across our #BetterTogether Initiatives and Communities of Practice, “but really the opportunity is the nudge the energy sector more broadly.”

To help with application of impact thinking across the sector, “we have set up an Impact Working Group which brings representatives from each of the Signatories together to talk about what this could look like for their business”.

As we work across the entire energy sector, being able to see things from different perspectives with the impact lens is critical in understanding the whole impact of our collective efforts. 

Sabiene explained that, “with many of our #BetterTogether initiatives, improvements to the impact of customers and communities will only work if, as a supply chain, we take a systems thinking approach. Our Impact Framework gives us the ability to do just that.”

Measuring impact at Thriving Communities Partnership

During the panel discussion, Ciara Sterling, CEO Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP) shared on the importance of measuring impact to meet their mission of every human within Australia having fair and equitable access to essential services and being able to thrive and live free from discrimination.

Ciara stated that throughout the process of developing an Impact Framework, TCP wanted to understand and measure their impact to enable them to dive into both the intended and unintended consequences of their work. 

“Similar to the Energy Charter, we also have that unique position that often we are acting as an intermediary for a number of our projects, working to influence change in the systems.”

“One of our largest evaluations [through our Impact Framework] has been the One Stop One Story Hub, a cross-sector digital platform that really enables frontline workers to incorporate community and government organisations to connect and refer their customers/clients [humans] to a range of supports through a single access point. 

We developed the Impact Framework during the co-design phase of the One Stop One Story Hub. We wanted the partners to be really involved in identifying the things that we want to measure.”

A key takeaway Ciara explored from their Impact Framework development was the need to measure the health and effectiveness of the partnerships throughout collaborative cross-sector work, especially looking at the ‘trust’ element being built between community and other organisations. This is evident in their evaluation of this project, including:

  • 98% of TCP’s partners have ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that their partners would act in the best interest of people experiencing vulnerability
  • 92% of TCP’s partners indicated that they were ‘constantly’ or ‘always’ learning from somebody else in the group
Being able to capture the outcomes and impact pathways shows that TCP are creating positive impact for the humans involved including those receiving the assistance, their partners and the organisations they’re working 

A platform for learning

To round up the session, Tracy shared her experience of embedding impact thinking in organisations, including that an impact-first approach is usually seen has a ‘too-hard to do’ or a ‘nice-to-have’. However, having an Impact Framework provides people with the framework needed to start thinking of impact earlier on in the conversation. It allows for new ways to learn from each other and helps guide efforts in a direction that is led by its intended impact.

It’s also critical to have a quantitative and qualitative approach. Tracy explained that “those two things together can really give us the story and help unpack or uncover insights … people go into an Impact Framework and think it’s all about numbers, where there’s actually so much richness in the stories too.”

Watch the ‘Why does impact matter?’ online discussion

If you missed the ‘Why does impact matter’ panel discussion, or would like to revisit the conversation, you can watch the recording below.

About the guest speakers

Tracy Collier, Founder and Director at Action with Impact

Tracy is a leader and mentor in Social Innovation and Impact, driven by the vision of an inclusive, just, and sustainable world. She works with organisations to improve their social impact by considering the lived experience of the people they affect and the system they operate in. 

Tracy’s approach combines design, research, evaluation, and partnership methods to deliver innovative and impactful solutions to complex problems. Tracy has a demonstrated history of developing strategic programs and partnerships between private, government, and social sectors to achieve social, economic, and environmental impact.

Ciara Sterling, CEO at Thriving Communities Partnership

Ciara Sterling is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP). TCP is a charity that convenes over 350 organisations across sectors and with people with lived experience to forge deeper understanding of vulnerability and drive ecosystem change through social design innovation.

Ciara Sterling has over 20 years’ experience collaborating across corporate, government, regulators, Ombudsman, community sectors and lived experience to address the root causes of vulnerability domestic abuse and inequality. Ciara is also a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC), is a member of the White Ribbon Advisory, the AER Customer Consultative Committee, and a founding member of the Economic Abuse Reference Group (EARG).

March 2024 News Update

Landholder Engagement Training Brisbane 2024

In our March 2024 News Update, read about the second round of Landholder Engagement Training in Brisbane, the launch of the first-ever Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide, the Wimmera Southern Mallee Collaboration led by Wimmera Southern Mallee Development and much more.

Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide

Following a series of environment and energy cross-sector workshops in Queensland hosted by RE-Alliance, the Energy Charter and Powerlink Queensland, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide on 27 February 2024!

What is the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide?

With the acceleration of climate change as well as ecosystem decline, there’s a present challenge for making the switch to renewable energy. With a need to build new infrastructure to replace fossil fuels, there also needs to be improvement to and protection of protect our natural environment by reducing the impacts of new development wherever possible.

This Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide showcases several environmental interventions at every stage of renewable energy project development, from energy system design to end-of-life. It outlines some of what is possible through case studies and identifies opportunities for cross-sector collaboration.

This process emerged from a series of environment and energy cross-sector workshops in Queensland hosted by RE-Alliance, the Energy Charter and Powerlink Queensland.

The Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide in-person launch

We’re proud to have partnered with RE-Alliance to launch the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide alongside Andrew Bray, the National Director at RE-Alliance and Dave Copeman, the Director at Queensland Conservation Council, at the Energy Charter’s National Landholder Engagement Training. An event that brings local landholders, conservation and environmental groups, renewable energy developers and energy businesses together to share insights and tools for better practice.

Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide launch
Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide launch
Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity: Opportunities for Collaboration Guide launch

Dave Copeman shared at the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide launch,

“This Guide maps a way for environmental groups and energy businesses to work together. It’s mapping a way to draw people in and say we can’t do this if we’re not in it together … we’ve got to find solutions together.

When we’re trying to work out how to build energy infrastructure, we’ve also got to put on “nature goggles” and say “where should we build this and where shouldn’t we?”

Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide online launch + discussion

We were also excited for the online launch of the Better Practice Renewables and Biodiversity Collaboration Guide on 26 March 2024. Joining the discussion was Dave Copeman, Lu Allan from RE-Alliance, Rosie King from Energy Estate, Kiara Bowles from Powerlink Queensland and our CEO, Sabiene Heindl.

In this online event, we heard more about the Opportunities for Collaboration Guide, the collaborative efforts of Queensland environmental and conservation group representatives and energy businesses as well as a more detailed conversation about the purpose and application of the Guide. Watch the recording below.

Thank you to all the collaborators!

Download a copy of the Better Practice Collaboration Guide to learn more, or if you’d like to learn more about the #BetterTogether initiative behind this Guide, check out more information here.

Resilience Community of Practice – Natural disasters, the long-term customer experience

Resilience CoP February 2024 - Long-term customer experience

Australia is in the midst of a summer of extreme weather events – cyclones, monsoons, flooding, bushfires. The immediate response to these events is extensive, garnering a combined reaction from the community, industry, and policy makers to find quick and effective solutions to ensure the safety of the community.

How will the experiences and needs of impacted people change in the coming months and years following these natural disasters?

In our first Resilience Community of Practice session of 2024, Helen Ford, Deputy Ombudsman at the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) shared learnings from their recent Spotlight On report ‘Natural disasters – the long-term customer experience‘, which looks at complaints related to NSW bushfires and floods to understand the customer experience in the medium and long term.

The NSW context

Every Local Government Area (LGA) in NSW has been included in a flood or bushfire disaster declaration at least once between July 2018 and October 2023.

Natural disasters in NSW

Immediate and short-term energy issues

The immediate response to these events is extensive, garnering a combined reaction from the community, industry, and policy makers to find quick and effective solutions to ensure the safety of the community.

While extreme weather events have an immediate and catastrophic impact, they are followed by a long tail of complicated impacts on individuals, local and surrounding communities. Reports like the Thriving Communities Partnership Disaster Planning and Recovery Project and the Energy Charter Disaster Response Playbook detail these impacts.

Helen explains, “EWON is not a first or even second responder; we are primarily a long-term responder. Safety and wellbeing are paramount in the initial response and recovery period. Immediately following a disaster, the majority of energy issues are urgent matters like safety hazards, damage, outages, and access to other essential services like telecommunications and transport.”

“We look in admiration on the work you [the energy sector] as first responders do.”

In the image below are some of the immediate and short-term energy issues post a disaster event.

Immediate and short term energy issues

Medium and long-term energy issues

As EWON are long-term responders, Helen explains that “we know trauma comes from having to repeat stories time and time again … events can continue to impact people for years and they may experience more than one event.”

“Empathy wains as time passes, so expectations about what is fair and reasonable become less clear … but months after an event, customers are still experiencing deep vulnerability.” 

In the image below are some of the medium and long-term energy customer complaint themes EWON have assisted to resolve.

Resilience Community of Practice co-host Desiree Sassanfar, Ausgrid, reflected, “It is good to hear the growing recognition of there being no defined end to recovery. When I moved into Emergency Management, I remember hearing about families who were yet to rebuild almost 10 years after the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria. 

It is so important to highlight that everyone’s recovery journey is unique. As network providers and retailers, we need to adapt to support our customers for this undefined period, even when we can often be highly operational businesses.”

The way forward…

Energy Charter Signatories have been on the front line of emergency responses and working hard to keep up with more frequent and severe weather events. Many, including those participating in the Energy Charter’s Resilience Community of Practice, are looking for proactive ways to support community resilience and deliver a better customer experience through disaster recovery.

Helen’s industry call to actions include:

  1. Proactively develop long-term support plans

    This planning needs to be informed by an understanding that:
    • impacts continue for years after the event
    • people may experience multiple events
    • the nature and level of impact changes over time.
  1. Identify and address factors contributing to customer stress, dissatisfaction, and lack of confidence in the energy sector culminating in complaint fatigue

    Helen says, “Energy providers need to use insights from internal and external complaints to identify ways to foster better understanding of the impact of extreme weather events and avoid complaint fatigue in customers.”

    Customers go to EWON when they are experiencing ongoing and long-term billing, supply and affordability issues, often months or even years after their homes or businesses were destroyed or deemed uninhabitable.

    Helen says, “While providers often get it right, complaints are an invaluable source of insights about where things can improve.”

    “Our commitment is that EWON will continue this conversation within the energy sector, and beyond, to share the insights from our complaints and gain insights from others.

Session resources 

Helen Ford
Deputy Ombudsman
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

About the speaker

In 2018/19 Helen Ford was appointed Deputy Ombudsman at the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW, to provide strategic support to the Ombudsman and undertake high level stakeholder engagement.

Before joining EWON, Helen worked for over a decade at the NSW Ombudsman’s office dealing with complaints about NSW government agencies and investigating systemic issues. She gained practical policy development experience working in the NSW Maritime Division of Roads and Maritime Services to improve operational procedures for Boating Safety Officers.

About this Community

This event is part of the Energy Charter’s Resilience Community of Practice dedicated to helping customers and communities better prepare, respond and recover from disaster events.

Every second month, the Energy Charter host a Community of Practice, including expert-led discussions building on the topics covered in the Energy Charter’s Disaster Response Playbook.

Every second month, the Energy Charter host a Community of Practice, including expert-led discussions building on the topics covered in the Energy Charter’s Disaster Response Playbook. Learn more about the Resilience Community of Practice.

Happy 5th Birthday to the Energy Charter!

Energy Charter Launch 2019

Today, the Energy Charter turns 5!

In some ways it feels like the blink of the eye since 17 CEOs gathered in Sydney to launch a world-first, whole of energy sector initiative to address customer expectations.

Yet at the same time, for our customers, community and the sector there have been unparalleled challenges and opportunities to navigate including COVID-19, cost-of-living crisis and the rapidly accelerating shift to renewables.

Increasing collaboration + decentralised accountability

The Energy Charter started out as purely an accountability mechanism against 5 Principles, focusing on embedding customer-centric culture and conduct in energy businesses to create real improvements in affordability and service delivery. For the first 3 years, Signatories delivered comprehensive Disclosures to an Independent Accountability Panel and CEOs were publicly interviewed and assessed on their performance.

In 2020, collaborative initiatives emerged. The #BetterTogether initiatives involve customer and community representatives working with industry through an innovation platform of “ideate, incubate and accelerate” to make meaningful change and deliver impact and outcomes.

In 2021, following a 3-Year Strategic Review, the Energy Charter CEO Council agreed to place greater focus on cross-sector collaboration through the #BetterTogether initiatives to deliver better outcomes for customers and communities. Full Signatories continued to focus on accountability publishing annual Disclosures demonstrating how they performed against the Energy Charter Principles. Building on the gains made over the last 3 years, the accountability framework now leverages existing business’ stakeholder consultation structures, rather than through the Independent Accountability Panel.

Over the last 4 years we’ve collaborated across 20 #BetterTogethers, rolled out 3 independent Customer Codes and supported 3 Communities of Practice. Signatories have published 91 Disclosures assessing their maturity and detailing outcomes and forward commitments to customers and communities.

What have we learnt?

Culture time is a slow burn. It takes leadership. It takes true commitment by Boards, CEOs and people at all levels within the business. It takes important gestures to build trust, such as setting up genuine mechanisms to listen to customers and communities and act upon them.

CEO Forum 2023

CEO Forum: Charting a Better Energy Future 2023. Read the blog here.

In our case, this has been the set-up of Customer and Community Outcome Groups (COGs) to strategically guide our #BetterTogether initiatives.

Joy Thomas - Ag Energy Rountable

Joy Thomas, Independent Chair, Ag + Energy Social Licence Roundtable

And, last but certainly not least, it remains essential to have a dedicated platform for collaboration like the Energy Charter to drive the change that is needed most.

IWG End of year workshop 2023

Energy Charter Industry Working Group (IWG) end-of-year workshop 2023

Continuous improvement

Since our inception, we’ve gained new Signatories including AusNet Services, Jacana Energy (NT), Horizon Power (WA), SA Power Networks and TasNetworks and new Signatory categories:

  • #BetterTogether Collaborators: including Energy Estate (our first renewable developer), and
  • Energy Charter Supporters: including AEMO and JLL Infrastructure.

We’ve also entered Collaboration Agreements with water sector, renewables and community sector partners.

We have grown the team to 4 dynamic and committed individuals, who work collaboratively across the energy sector with customers and communities on key priorities across social licence in the energy transition and energy affordability.

Energy Charter team at the Leadership Retreat 2023

We have also been building our Impact Framework in 2023, launching in March 2024. Work with Action with Impact reinforced that the Energy Charter:

  • Creates a trusted national platform to raise awareness and share customer and community opportunities across the entire energy sector
  • Provides a framework approach to understanding challenges and respond collaboratively to bridge the gap between ‘hard-to-do’ and ‘can-do’ with a big and bold mindset
  • Builds a trusted space to share learnings, have difficult conversations and scale solutions that benefit customers and communities
  • Leverages ‘building block’ structure through the #BetterTogether framework to create pathways from research and insights into action + impact
  • Aligns CEOs to a shared accountability model, to self-assess maturity and commit to better outcomes for customers and communities.

Who are we now?

The Energy Charter is a unique coalition of like-minded energy organisations with a shared purpose and passion for customers and communities. We are here to stay.

We know that customers and communities rely on all of us. We all use energy every day. It lights our homes and powers businesses. We’re all part of the same ecosystem, so working #BetterTogether is vital now and into the future.

Our purpose is to empower one another to deliver better energy outcomes for customers and communities. Our vision is that together, we can create a better energy future for all Australians.

For us, the opportunity is to keep humans at the centre of the design and delivery of energy solutions; to navigate the changing needs of customers and communities as we transform to a cleaner energy future.

There really is no other collaboration like us; and the work we do, together, has never been more important than it is today. We are #BetterTogether.

We thank all the amazing people that have contributed to the journey of the Energy Charter and pay tribute to those that kicked us off!

The story of energy - An artwork is by Ngarrindjeri artist, Jordan Lovegrove

The above artwork is by Ngarrindjeri artist, Jordan Lovegrove tells the story of energy, how it connects all of Australia and the Energy Charter’s commitment to create a better energy future for all Australians. Learn more here.


On 31 January 2019, 17 CEOs gathered in Sydney to commit to the Energy Charter led by a Panel of:

  • John Cleland, Chief Executive Officer, Essential Energy
  • Nevenka Codevelle, Energy Charter Industry Working Group Chair 
  • Mick McCormack, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, APA Group
  • Ed McManus, Chief Executive Officer, Powershop
  • Andrew Richards, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Users’ Association of Australia
  • Rosemary Sinclair AM, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Consumers Australia
  • David Smales, Chief Executive Officer, Energy Queensland
  • Catherine Tanna, Managing Director, EnergyAustralia

Original Signatories included: AGL, APA Group, Aurora Energy, Ausgrid, AusNet Services, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, CS Energy, Endeavour Energy, Energy Queensland Limited including Ergon Energy Network, Energex, Yurika and Ergon Energy Retail, EnergyAustralia, Essential Energy, Jemena & Ovida, Meridian Energy Australia & Powershop Australia, Origin Energy, Powerlink Queensland, Stanwell and Transgrid.