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A warm welcome to the latest issue of EWONews.  Janine Young

I’ve just returned from the 2024 Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) Conference in Perth, on beautiful Whadjuk Nyoongar country. I was privileged to present, with my Ombudsman colleagues, at the External Dispute Resolution Forum where I had the opportunity to hear about the issues consumers are facing, through the lens of the financial counsellors across Australia who provide them with invaluable advice and assistance. The forum offers attendees the chance to let Ombudsman schemes know what we could be doing better, which then shapes our work when we return to the office.  

Earlier this month I spent the week in Far West NSW reaching First Nations communities partnering with the Tenancy Support and Education Project. I spoke with customers in Broken Hill, Menindee and Wilcannia who are managing significant energy debt compounded by cost of living pressures. It was great to have Essential Energy on the ground with us providing information and advice to its customers including about renewable energy projects. Getting out into community, seeing the issues customers are facing on the ground and resolving complaints on the spot is a huge value-add that can’t be replicated on the phone. Read more about this later in the newsletter.  

And finally, EWON’s monetary limit for Binding Decisions has increased from $40K to $100K in accordance with changes to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) financial limit and EWON’s Constitution and Charter.

Until next time

Janine Young
Ombudsman & Chief Executive Officer
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW


Complaint update

In the January to March 2024 quarter, EWON received 6,833 complaints, up 57% compared to the same quarter last year but a slight decrease from the 7,222 received last quarter. Again, most complaints were about electricity (5,656), with 914 complaints about gas and 231 regarding water. Billing was the biggest issue with 5,031 complaints, followed by 497 credit complaints and 329 about digital meter exchange.

Complaints received January - March 2024

View more complaint data


Calling all community workers!

Have you booked your seat for our free Community Worker Forum?

Join us on Wednesday 5 June to hear from various speakers including Trina Jones, the NSW Rental Commissioner and Brendan French, CEO of Energy Consumers Australia about the work they are doing to better understand the experiences of tenants and energy consumers.

Click here to reserve your space


EWON staff movement

We are excited to announce that Rosa Krilic, General Manager Dispute Resolution, will take up the position of Deputy Ombudsman at EWON. Rosa will also continue to lead the Dispute Resolution team as she has since February 2021. In accepting the new role, Rosa said it is both an honour and a privilege to be appointed as Deputy Ombudsman at EWON, and she is inspired by the legacy that Helen Ford has built before her.

We are pleased to welcome Polly Porteous, as EWON’s new GM Governance, Awareness and Policy. Polly’s career brings together many years of experience in a range of fields including legal, advocacy, ombudsman, dispute resolution and stakeholder and community engagement. If you’re interested in a career at EWON – make sure you keep an eye on our current job opportunities.


Customer experiences after natural disasters

Our recent Consultative Council Meeting focused on the long-term customer experience following a natural disaster. While the immediate response to these events is extensive, EWON has found that the support offered to residents and small businesses by retailers in the months and even years that follow is inadequate. This topic is covered in our recent Spotlight On report

Joanna Quilty, NSW Reconstruction Authority Head of Preparedness and Recovery, spoke about the work her agency does, coordinating rebuilding and reconstruction in the aftermath of natural disasters.  

Thank you to all the community representatives, EWON members and industry representatives who were part of this important conversation. If you’re interested in being part of our next Consultative Council Meeting in October 2024, email  

Pictured L to R: Joanna Quilty, NSW Reconstruction Authority, Tony Crawford, Chair of EWON Board, Helen Ford, Deputy Ombudsman at EWON, Janine Young, Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW


Outreach update

This month, EWON covered the length of NSW as we visited two very different, but equally beautiful communities – Coffs Harbour and Broken Hill.  

More than 16 community organisations, government services and energy providers joined us in Coffs Harbour, Grafton and Macksville for our Bring Your Bills Days.  We connected with over 150 people who came for the practical and varied support our Bring Your Bills days offer. We were also able to connect with the local MP and TV, radio and print media outlets to raise awareness of our services.

EWON has worked with First Nations communities, their leaders and the agencies and services that work with them for over a decade. We teamed up again this month with Murdi Paaki’s Tenant Support and Education Project, a relationship first established in 2016, for Information Days in Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Menindee. Many customers in the area were managing energy debt and we helped them access affordability programs, payment plans and rebates. 


Managing unreasonable customer behaviour

Our Dispute Resolution Team have been seeing an increase in customers exhibiting unreasonable behaviour. For this reason, we have developed our new EWON Interaction Principles which outline the expected behaviour of not just customers, but providers and EWON employees when resolving disputes.   

Key to the principles, is EWON’s expectation that all parties cooperate reasonably with the common goal of resolving a complaint. They also explain how EWON will respond to providers and customers that do not comply with its expectations.

View the EWON Interactions Principles here.


Reminder: no fees for paper bills or paying at Australia Post

EWON recently identified a systemic issue where a retailer was charging customers a fee for over the counter payments at Australia Post. Retailers haven’t been allowed to charge NSW customers a fee for paying their bills over the counter at Australia Post, or for issuing paper bills since 2018.

When we advised the retailer they fixed the issue and credited thousands of customers.

Always remember to check your bills – if you have been charged for getting paper bills sent or for paying over the counter at Australia post, speak to your retailer. If you’re not satisfied with their response, you can contact EWON.


Unplug to reduce standby power

Did you know that even when electronic devices are off, they can still consume electricity? Unplugging them or switching them off at the wall when not in use can help you save on your electricity bill.

Use power boards to connect multiple devices and turn it off when they're not needed. This way, you can cut power to all the devices at once. And make sure you set your electronics to sleep mode to reduce energy consumption when not in use.


Case study: Credit balance not displayed on bill

Jo pays $80 per month towards her electricity bills which covers her usage and leaves her account in credit. She received a bill in a new format that said she was in credit by $220 but also that she owed $95.

Jo contacted her retailer and was informed it was the correct way to be billed. She contacted EWON as she was confused by the new layout of her bill and didn’t think she owed anything to the retailer.

We requested information from the retailer which advised it had made changes to its bill templates in line with the Better Bills Guideline. The retailer said it now sends a cover letter to customers with the account balance and all payments, concessions and amounts owing, whereas the bill provides a breakdown of the customers charges for the period. The retailer said it had explained this to Jo, however, it was not accepted.

While reviewing the complaint the retailer’s staff member had provided feedback internally that the wording on the bill, advising the total amount due, might be misleading to customers in credit. The retailer reissued a bill to Jo after updating its process, reworded to say ‘your total new charges’.

EWON explained the new guideline requirements to Jo and the retailer agreed to apply a $50 credit to her account as a customer service gesture.

Jo again expressed concerns that the bill did not show when her payments were made and that she still found the new bills more confusing than the previous ones. She said she would raise her concerns with her local Member of Parliament.


Come to our events

We’re looking forward to seeing customers and stakeholders at several upcoming events, including:

If you’d like us to attend an event or visit your community organisation, email You can also book us in for a free information session on energy and water affordability programs, rebates and concessions, and tips to save you money on energy or water bills.


Want to see more from us?

EWON regularly publishes reports and media releases. Use our publications subscriptions form and select the publications you would like to receive so you don’t miss out.

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Acknowledgement of Country

EWON acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands across New South Wales. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and we offer our thanks to Aboriginal communities who welcome us on their land. Ngara ngwiya yudi - listen, give, guide