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A program that helps culturally and linguistically diverse communities to negotiate a better deal on their power bills will run for a second year, following positive outcomes and feedback.
Through the Voices for Power program, community network Sydney Alliance brings together diverse cultural, religious and community leaders to build collective power, through knowledge sharing about safe and affordable energy solutions.
In 2021, eight workshops were held to train 157 people from eleven of Australia’s largest community groups.
The program is supported by energy distribution companies, Ausgrid, Jemena and Endeavour Energy.
Chief Customer Officer at Ausgrid, Rob Amphlett Lewis, said the goal of the program is to empower Australia’s community leaders to support others to take control of their energy concerns, adopt simple energy safety practices, better understand the energy industry and negotiate a better deal on their power bills.
“The Voices for Power program is aimed at increasing the confidence of our culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and we are extremely pleased to see the 2021 program delivered just that,” Mr Amphlett Lewis said.
“We’re committed to ensuring equal access and understanding of our often complex energy system and look forward to seeing the results of the 2022 program.”
Managing Director at Jemena, Frank Tudor, said Jemena is proud to support a program where people from a range of communities become confident to engage with the energy system and do things like negotiate themselves a new deal that saves them money.
“The energy system can be complex, and it’s important for us to stay connected with communities through programs like this, so we can not only help them understand the system, but also look at what we can do to make things easier for them,” Mr Tudor said.
To deliver this critical program of work to our communities, leaders from local Tongan, Fijian, Filipino, Arabic-speaking, South Asian, Chinese and Nepalese communities delivered linguistically and culturally appropriate training for community members.
It is estimated these crucial sessions have so far reached 630 people in the community with significant real-world outcomes.
Nirjala Pandey, Nepali Trainer based in the Liverpool Local Government Area, said, “The communities and people we work with are very concerned about the cost of energy, it is an urgent cost-of-living pressure that is stressing households.
“They are hungry to understand the energy system, how to save money and be empowered and confident to take control of their energy bills.”
Energy is always evolving and so too are Australia’s communities, programs like Voices for Power help the energy industry stay connected to what communities need, today and tomorrow, while ensuring the energy literacy surrounding safety and pricing continues to increase.
Safety is a core value at Ausgrid, Jemena and Endeavour Energy, and improving public safety was a key focus for the energy distributors in supporting the program.
The 2021 outcomes report found confidence amongst participants in understanding energy safety more than doubled post the training, with over 67 per cent of participants adopting more energy safe practices.
“It’s great to see the training delivering real life practical outcomes with participants adopting more energy safe practices,” Mr Amphlett Lewis said.
“I’d also like to thank the community leaders who have made this possible through their own commitment and dedication.”
Lina Chen Pan, a trainer representing the Chinese community based in Georges River Local Government Area, said the community appreciates the relational approach of the training.
“The community is trained together with people that they already trust and share information with. We take the time to listen to their experiences of the energy system,” Ms Chen Pan said.
“They feel that they are safe to ask questions about the energy system, which allows them to build their knowledge and confidence to engage with the energy system.”
Chief Customer and Strategy Officer at Endeavour Energy, Leanne Pickering, said that as the energy transition progresses, Endeavour Energy wants to ensure that all customers are included, and no one is left behind.
“At Endeavour Energy we want to ensure all of our customers understand the complex energy system, and have access to energy saving and safety information.
“The Voices for Power program is helping ensure all customers can better understand the energy system and what changes they can make to reduce their costs.”
The energy partners behind the second year of the program worked with Sydney Alliance to develop training workshops for the community leaders based on key learnings from the focus groups.
Any community groups or individuals interested in participating in the program can find more information here.