We're committed to making our services accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and as effective as possible. To do this we:
- employ a dedicated Aboriginal Community Engagement Officer
- develop resources specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- maintain partnerships with other community organisations.
Our commitment is documented in our Reconciliation Action Plan.
We recognise that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prefer to access services through an Aboriginal person who is culturally aware of, and sensitive to, their history and traditions. Our Engagement Officer visits communities to talk about our services, and strengthen links with other community organisations. The role helps us:
- increase cross cultural awareness among our staff
- develop more effective and practical ways of working together
- work with community services to develop programs that cater for our Aboriginal customers.
The Ombudsman accompanies the Engagement Officer on at least two regional and remote outreach visits each year, to hear about issues communities are facing.
How we help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
Aboriginal people can be particularly disadvantaged when it comes to energy and water and the main issues people come to EWON about relate to billing and affordability.
Those living in rural or remote communities face extreme heat in summer and cold in winter. Poorly maintained social housing and older, less energy efficient appliances often result in quarterly electricity bills of $2,000 or more. These bills often accumulate over time and lead to significant debt.
In the 2020/2021 financial year we received 219 complaints from people who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. These customers reported the issues displayed in the graph below. Note there may be more than one issue per complaint.
Mob Matters campaign
To increase awareness of energy and water issues and our services, we teamed up with well-known Aboriginal comedian, Sean Choolburra, to develop the ‘Mob Matters’ awareness campaign.
We're Here for You campaign
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our Outreach team wasn’t able to visit many of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we usually work with. Our “We’re Here for You” campaign seeks to reconnect with customers and remind them we’re here to help with their energy and water issues.
Good Service Mob
EWON is part of the Good Service Mob, a collaboration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff from complaint-handling agencies who help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers in NSW.
The Good Service Mob was set up in 2005 to help ensure all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are aware of their rights as consumers, and the free services available to help them. The Good Service Mob has visited many communities since its inception including Armidale, Tamworth, Quirindi, Wyong, and Umina. Visit the Good Service Mob website for details of upcoming events.