Energy Savvy Families is being rolled out across 10 centres in regional Queensland, to help households understand energy use and bill management.
According to ECCC’s Carole Rogan, the program was desperately needed on the Darling Downs.
“Toowoomba is the biggest regional area that settles asylum seekers, migrants and refugees and we are finding electricity is a big issue,” Ms Rogan said.
“One of the big things is that they don’t understand bills and find that Toowoomba’s climate can be quite cold in the winter and so they use a lot of power and then get a terrible shock.
“The other day we had a family that came from Afghanistan with a $2000 power bill and $1300 is not unusual.”
Energy Savvy Families is a partnership between Queensland Council of Social Service, the Department of Energy and Water Supply, Ergon Energy and CitySmart.
Participating households receive a new digital electricity meter and receive monthly electricity bills, ensuring payments are smaller and more manageable.
As one of 10 champions of the initiative, ECCC is providing support and additional education and advice to Energy Savvy Families participants.
“It is excellent for them to have a monthly bill as they know exactly when it is coming, and assisting people to come onto Centrepay or direct debit has also made a huge difference,” Ms Rogan said.
“We have really enjoyed our involvement so far. Because we are in central Toowoomba we get a lot of people who walk through our doors who need referrals to NILS loans or have huge electricity bills and this program helps with that.
“As part of it (Energy Savvy Families) we have started going to inter-agency meetings, where it has been really good to be able to promote something that is going to help families and deal with cost of living in a positive way.
“It has been great to connect to other agencies and to hear how we can help them and they can help us.”
Registrations to participate in Energy Savvy Families close on Friday. For more details head to https://www.qcoss.org.au/energy-savvy-families-0