A message from the Ombudsman
Welcome to our final newsletter for 2021. As we wrap up a difficult year, I'm proud to reflect on our achievements – as everyone recognises, 2021 will go down as being challenging year for our staff, members, and stakeholders.
Our 2020/2021 Annual Report theme, Listen, Engage, Act, recognised the fact that this year, perhaps more than ever, consumers and stakeholders needed to be heard. So, we listened, we engaged and we took action. Our new interactive complaints dashboards, a new addition to our Annual Report this year, enable customers and stakeholders to take a deep dive into our complaints data and local trends. Read more in this newsletter.
We’ve held three large-scale online events over the last few months. In October, I was delighted to host Resilience NSW Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons at our online Re-engage and Renew Forums (Orange and Western Sydney) as part of Anti-Poverty Week. Shane presented to over 150 community workers about his work during the catastrophic 2019/2020 summer bushfires and shared insights into how communities can rebuild and renew after disasters – a key focus of his new role.
Earlier this month, our virtual Consultative Council Meeting was attended by 18 EWON members and 22 community representatives from organisations including NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the Community Migrant Resource Centre, Focus Connect, St Vincent de Paul, and Carers NSW. I would like to thank guest speaker Lynne Gallagher, CEO of Energy Consumers Australia for discussing the changing energy market and the importance of developing strong consumer protections for behind the meter products. We will be working closely with Energy Consumers Australia next year to progress this work.
EWON has seen an increase in complaints this quarter, this was expected given the winding back of the Australian Energy Regulator’s COVID-19 related consumer protections. High disputed billing complaints increased by 24% and this could be the result of customers starting to receive their winter bills after a prolonged lockdown.
2022 will bring us all new opportunities to work together and resume face-too-face engagement. Before then, please take the time to have a good break – we all need it.
Wishing you all a safe and relaxing holiday season.
Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW