A message from the Ombudsman

Attending the Financial Counselling Australia Conference in Darwin on the lands of the Larrakia people has been one of the highlights of my year. Around 500 financial counsellors and capability workers shared the inspiring event – one of the best conferences I have ever attended and a true celebration of learning from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and each other. 

One of the pre-conference events is an External Dispute Resolution forum where Energy and Water, Financial Services and Telecommunications Ombudsmen learn about consumer experiences from financial counsellors and capability workers from across Australia. I facilitated a session where the audience could “Ask an Ombudsman” anything, creating a great opportunity for all of us to engage and share information including about our roles and offices. I came back to EWON inspired, and as promised during the conference Welcome to Country, a part of Larrakia came back with me.

Earlier this month I joined our Outreach team on a trip to Northern NSW to deliver Community Assistance Days in Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Casino. This was EWON’s first opportunity, in over 18 months, to reach these flood and bushfire affected areas and begin establishing relationships with local Aboriginal communities and organisations. Over 100 people attended the events where we assisted customers with numerous enquiries including how to access rebates and set up payment plans. Now of course, we find ourselves back in lockdown and have returned to virtual engagement.

The Australian Energy Council has recently produced, in consultation with a number of consumer advocates, a best practice guide for retailers to ensure better outcomes for customers experiencing vulnerability. Read more in this newsletter, including tips for community workers engaging with energy retailers on their clients’ behalf. This initiative aims to build trust and genuine engagement between energy retailers and their customers.

We welcomed Carolyn Campbell-McLean, Disability Training and Communications Consultant to our last Consultative Council Meeting to discuss what the recent life support rule change means for people with a lived experience of disability. Carolyn helped organise the event in Blacktown that led to EWON successfully changing the outdated national energy rule. Carolyn’s humour and honesty inspired new collaborations between stakeholders and a valuable Q&A session.

Our twice yearly Consultative Council Meetings enable us to engage with consumer, small business and industry representatives operating in NSW. If you’d like an invite, please email the Members Team.

I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events.

Read the full newsletter

Janine Young
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW

Janine Young, Ombudsman