We’ve started a journey towards energy equity

In October 2022, we launched a consumer vulnerability strategy that calls for ‘game-changer’ reforms to the way Australia’s energy system approaches vulnerability among consumers.

The AER recognises that the energy market is growing ever-more complex and impenetrable for many in our society.

Our strategy, Towards energy equity: A strategy for an inclusive energy market, seeks to tackle the enduring issues that prevent people from getting what they need from Australia’s energy system and reduce retailers’ overall costs that come from supporting consumers experiencing vulnerability.

We’ve listened to real-life experiences, consulted with experts, and questioned current approaches to identify what the energy sector can do differently to get better outcomes.

Visual: [Text appears on screen] We would like to acknowledge those who have a lived experience of vulnerability. In particular, those who have chosen to share their experiences of navigating the energy sector to support our work. 

Visual: [Text appears on screen] We acknowledge the determination and courage it takes for people to revisit memories in the hope of shaping a better future for themselves and others.

Visual: [Text appears on screen] We are deeply appreciative of this, and for any of you who may be in attendance today. 

Visual: [Text appears on screen] “I felt judged and poor but what can you do, people don’t know what others are going through.” – Female, Single income No kids / Dual Income No Kids, Metro NSW 

Visual: [Text appears on screen] “I felt ashamed for not being able to handle my bills as I should” – Female, Single parent, Metro NSW

Visual: [Text appears on screen] “Trapped in a never-ending cycle going backwards in life” – Male, Single income, No kids / Dual income No kids, Metro NSW

Visual: [Text appears on screen] “Hopeless, inadequate, miserable, depressed and incredibly anxious. It’s just so confusing and difficult to navigate and I don’t know where to turn to for help.” – Female, Dual parent, Metro NSW.

Visual: [Text appears on screen] A highly complex market. Rising cost of living is increasing vulnerability for consumers.

Visual: [Text appears on screen] Female, Single parent, Metropolitan NSW. A woman sits at a desk sifting through documents. 

Audio: I had no idea about payment plans or extensions until after I experienced my first disconnection and the impact; well it was huge. 

Visual: A person is holding a credit card while typing on a computer 

Audio: We had to have cold showers, unable to cook, had to eat a lot of sandwiches and takeaway food. Kids were hungry and upset. 

Visual: A child sits solemnly looking at the camera. 

Audio: I kept them home from school as they were so upset. I made excuses when my friends came over. It was horrible. I hated it. 

Visual: A person sifts through papers sitting at a desk. 

Visual: [Text appears on screen] Female, Dual parent, Regional NSW 

Audio (AER voiceover): Due to the last two years, with the pandemic, fires and floods, what would be good for us all is a fresh campaign for those that normally would not need this assistance but have found themselves in new territory. 

Visual: [Text appears on screen] Female, Single, Regional VIC

Visual: An elderly lady, appearing stressed, sits at a desk and opens a notebook. She puts the notebook down and opens an envelope and pulls out a bill.

Audio: I felt very vulnerable, ashamed and consistently worried about the future. My mental health was very fragile, and this played out physically with headaches, and weight loss. 

Visual: [Text appears on screen] Male, Single, Metropolitan ACT 

Audio: I live on my own and I’m on a disability pension. I struggle week in and week out with bills. 

Visual: A person on a wheelchair wheels. 

Audio: I have to live from paycheck to paycheck. I used to have a high paying job until multiple health issues appeared. 

Visual: An elderly person looks at a bill that has “OVERDUE” stamped on the page. 

Audio: It never used to be a problem when I was working but now it’s as hard as ever. I often look around for the best price on things. 

Visual: [Text appears on screen] WE MUST DO BETTER 

Audio (AER voiceover): In a Post-Covid world with the ever-rising cost of living there is a greater risk of hardship and vulnerability within our community. It can happen to anyone at any time. It is time for the energy sector to come together inclusive of all consumers where it does not create barriers, but reduces complexity and enhances accessibility.

Visual: [Text appears on screen] 

  • Improve identification of vulnerability 
  • Adequate protections 
  • Minimise the overall cost to serve 

Audio (AER voiceover): Where it listens to, understands and reflects the experiences of consumers and strengthens protections for them, and in turn minimises the overall cost to serve. 

Visual: A person standing on a hill against a sunset reaches out to help another person climb to the top of the hill. The scene switches to a two-lane road in a forest on a sunny day. 

Audio (AER voiceover): Together we can shift the dial towards energy equity. 

Visual: A man and a woman stand facing each other on a balcony and they link their hands 

Audio (AER voiceover): “How can we be of service to you today?” “I need help”. 

Visual: The Australian Energy Regulator logo appears on screen. 

Objective and actions

Towards energy equity identifies 5 core objectives and 15 actions that we will undertake over three years to:

  1. improve identification of vulnerability
  2. reduce complexity and enhance accessibility for energy consumers
  3. strengthen protections for consumers facing payment difficulty
  4. use the consumer voice and lived experience to inform regulatory design and change
  5. balance affordability and consumer protections by minimising the overall cost to serve.

The 'game-changer' action recognises the enormous potential in the energy sector to innovate and better allocate resources to not only provide a safer, healthier experience for consumers but also potentially save money and resources throughout the system.

The game-changer aims to better balance cost and risk within the energy sector so that consumers experiencing vulnerability are identified early and get the support they need to improve outcomes.

The strategy and 'game-changer'

Towards energy equity - a strategy for an inclusive energy market

Our strategy seeks to tackle the enduring issues that prevent consumers experiencing vulnerability from getting what they need from Australia’s energy system.

Game changer reforms

We recognise the enormous potential in the energy sector to innovate and allocate resources to identify consumer vulnerability earlier and improve outcomes.