MultiLink Community Services has strengthened its reputation as a creative provider through the innovative use of its Switched On Communities grant.
Based in Logan, MultiLink focuses on supporting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities through language support, social engagement programs and settlement services.
After receiving funding through the Switched On Communities program, which aims to assist low income and vulnerable people participate in the competitive energy market, MultiLink carefully crafted its approach.
“After we attended training with Queensland Council of Social Service we developed resources that are simpler, to suit the language needs of our clientele,” said Tenny Cloupet, MultiLink’s Switched On Communities Officer.
“We have been delivering those resources to settlement clients and are also going out to events to give out advice and answer questions about electricity bills.
“We talk through everything and educate clients so they understand their bills and their rights, as well as how to shop around to get the best electricity deals.
“It is a great program. It is really helping the community, especially those from a refugee background who are really seeing something positive from this.”
It has resulted in some astounding savings for MultiLink’s clients, many of whom are from low socio-economic backgrounds.
MultiLink Community Support Worker Dragana Pahulu said one-on-one interviews have been particularly effective.
“One example I can give is that I had a client on a support pension and she was really distressed when she came in,” Ms Pahulu said.
“Her car registration was due, her car battery had to be replaced, her child had moved out of home and she was relying on his contribution to the household, so she was finding it really hard and was struggling financially to pay her electricity bill.
“I had a quick look at the bill and it turned out she was paying for green energy, which she had asked the company to remove in 2014.
“When we spoke to her provider they were able to back-credit her account to 2014, and we set up an extended payment plan for her so she wouldn’t fall into hardship again so it was a really positive outcome.”
Switched On Communities is funded by AGL in partnership with QCOSS and the Queensland Government.