We are developing resources for energy retailers outlining how they can support customers experiencing economic abuse associated with family violence.
Family violence resources review 2018
Launch and workshop #130 August 2018
Discussion paper31 October
Draft decision19 March 2019
Final decision22 May 2019
Better practice guideMid-2019
We have released our final decision on how energy retailers can improve protections for customers affected by family violence.
The final decision is part of our response to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. It's also part of our broader family violence framework for the energy sector.
View our final decision and all family violence resources for businesses
We're amending the Energy Retail Code
Our final decision outlines the Energy Retail Code amendments that will be implemented on 1 January 2020. These amendments aim to give customers affected by family violence an entitlement to safe, supportive and flexible assistance in managing their personal and financial security.
From 1 January 2020, energy retailers will be required to provide family violence assistance to their customers. They will need to have a family violence policy, and meet minimum standards on:
- account security
- customer service
- debt management practices
- external support services
- evidence of family violence.
These minimum standards were developed from six months of consultation with energy retailers, family violence specialists and the community sector. They were also informed by advice from victim-survivors of family violence, who generously shared their stories and experiences with us.
Our broader family violence framework
We are developing a family violence framework for energy customers in Victoria, designed around the proposed amendments to the code and a better practice guide.
In mid-2019 we will publish a better practice guide with family violence initiatives from across the energy and water sectors. The guide will highlight innovation and support improvement beyond the minimum standards of the code. Underpinning the guide will be the principles and actions refined through our 2018 workshop series and issues paper, Providing Family Violence Support.
Our role in pressing for change
In response to the 2016 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, the government asked us to provide guidance on the policies and best practices energy retailers should adopt to support people who have experienced family violence. Since July 2018, we've worked with family violence experts and the broader energy sector to understand our role and how best to facilitate change.
'The victim's choices, their ability to participate freely in everyday life is taken from them. It is the deprivation of that basic right, that right to participate freely in every day life, that is what we are here to discuss.'
- Essential Services Commission Chairperson, Dr Ron Ben-David, speaking at our project launch.
We're supporting energy retailers to develop safe and effective responses
We're looking at ways businesses can ensure they are providing the right kind of support to customers and staff at the point it is needed.
Through a series of workshops in 2018 we looked at the impact of family violence on customers and staff and why the Royal Commission into Family Violence identified a role for business in providing safe and effective responses.
In October we published a discussion paper, Providing Family Violence Support, to guide energy retailers on how to improve their processes to provide safe and effective support to customers and staff who experience family violence.
'If you are asking yourself, 'how could I help?', change the tone in that and ask yourself 'how can I help?' Because the smallest thing can make a difference.'
- Educator and family violence advocate, Lisa McAdams, at our first workshop in August
Working collaboratively to learn and raise awareness
We know some energy retailers are already active in responding to family violence. We are partnering with them to learn about their approach, how they they see their role in the community, and what issues they face in continuing to develop an effective response.
'If it were a colleague or a friend of mine, I would want to know that industries like mine have their back and would help when they need it.'
- David Ackland, EnergyAustralia's Executive for Customer Experience, at our first workshop in August