As one of nine participating organisations in the Switched On Communities program in South-East Queensland, LADCO received funding to develop and roll-out programs on understanding and managing energy bills and navigating the energy sector.
LADCO, a non-for-profit community hub in the Lockyer Valley, provided home visits, group sessions and one-on-one interviews.
Emergency Relief Worker Lynda Rendall said it was a rewarding experience for both the organisation and its clients.
“We have been able to build financial resistance, advocate, ensure people are receiving rebates, ensure people are getting the best deal, show people how to read and understand their bill, know how to confidently shop around and we saved people money,” Ms Rendall said.
“What we discovered though, is that this is much more than about ‘a power bill’, this is about people and their lives.”
For LADCO, Switched On Communities sat well within their Financial Inclusion Programs, which support vulnerable people in managing their debts and their lives by empowerment and knowledge.
It has also helped stakeholders outside the Lockyer Valley and Queensland.
“I was delighted to be invited to attend the Australian Energy Regulator’s “Energy Made Easy” workshop where I was able to relay information from our clients about issues at the coalface regarding the use of the Energy Made Easy Website for future user friendliness,” Ms Rendall said.
While Switched On Communities was only funded through to the end of May, it is hoped its benefits will continue well into the future.
“I have so many good news stories, here is just one - a senior couple was supported to have their market offer discount applied and backdated for five months after it was discovered that they had not been receiving it,” Ms Rendall said.
“They also chose to have green power charges, which are the highest rate, removed from their account as they did not realise that they were paying them.
“This resulted in a credit of over $400 to their account, just in time for Christmas.”
Switched On Communities was funded by AGL in partnership with Queensland Council Of Social Service and the Queensland Government.
Photo: Sandra Harvey (left) and Lynda Rendall