“They don’t care. They just want their money.” That’s what 27 year old Emira* told our researchers about having her power disconnected in the midst of trying to escape a violent relationship. This year was a powerful year for Consumer Action’s work on energy, with the release of our ‘Heat or Eat’ report, featuring stories like Emira’s that showed the decision to disconnect can cause major shockwaves in the lives of family violence victims, people living with mental health issues and those living in poverty.
On a daily basis, our financial counsellors hear the stories of Victorians who are struggling to make ends meet, and in the worst cases, making the awful choice each night between whether they should heat their house, or whether they should eat. Our legal team often advise and go in to fight for people who’ve had problems with products and services in the energy market and our policy team have worked diligently over many years to make sure governments, regulators and energy companies operate a fair market that recognises energy as a truly essential service.
Looking ahead, Consumer Action has also led the discussion about the future of the energy market and making sure that the needs of Australians are taken into account as technology rapidly transforms what our energy market, and the products and services it provides, looks like for the future.
Consumer Action’s ‘Power Transformed’ report, informed by the Demand-side Energy Reference Group and released in July 2016, was the first attempt within Australia’s energy market to focus on the experiences and engagement of consumers. A useful blueprint for whole of sector collaboration, the project drew together a reference group of senior leaders from rule-makers, regulators, government departments, traditional industry, innovators, academics and consumer organisations who worked together over 12 months to explore how to enable better consumer outcomes and build trust in the face of rapid transformation.
By working with people impacted by the energy market, the companies that serve them and the public servants who write and enforce the market rules, we’re working towards an energy market where Emira, and many more like her, get a fair go and access to safe, secure and affordable energy.
*name changed for privacy