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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 March 2010) . . Page.. 1455 ..

I am aware of a range of valuable energy efficiency programs for low income households in the community. The ACT energy wise home energy audit provides, at no charge for a concession cardholder, a professional energy audit of a household and an energy report identifying energy savings.

Successful programs like WEST and these ACT government programs involve one-to-one education on how to reduce energy consumption. This active engagement of clients achieves greater outcomes than relying solely on written education materials. Another important feature is the ability to have technical experts that can relate to others compassionately, clearly and without judgement.

These programs are specialised because they are aimed at permanent behavioural change. Their methodology has been developed over many years by experts in the fields of: energy efficiency, community support and financial counselling.

The Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services currently funds ACTCOSS to provide systemic advocacy for low income households on a range of policy matters, including access to essential services. ACTCOSS’s strategic goals for the next three years include bringing social equity into environmental debates on climate change mitigation strategies.

CARE Financial Counselling Inc is funded to the tune of $370,914 to provide an integrated financial counselling service and systemic advocacy on issues important to low or fixed income clients. CARE ensures low income customers are treated fairly and helps them overcome debt through counselling and advocacy, such as in submissions to the ICRC on the feed-in tariff and by raising community awareness. CARE is part of the WEST project and has participated at forums to discuss the introduction of pre-paid metering in the ACT.

The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal also promotes social equity in energy supply, by dealing with hardship cases on a case-by-case basis.

The ACT government has developed a strong partnership with advocacy agencies in the ACT. And these organisations provide valuable policy and program advice to improve our support for vulnerable members of the community. As you can see, Madam Assistant Speaker, the ACT government has developed a suite of measures to support low income households to actively engage in energy efficient practices in our community.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (8.14): We must take action, we know, to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and move towards clean renewable energy, and we know that community change is important and that local action is important. We know that there will be rising energy costs; these will be due to climate change and due to the real cost of energy that is now being factored in and that will continue to be factored into people’s household bills. Some of these costs are also to do with an increase, an improvement and an updating of energy infrastructure. And we also know that we have major challenges ahead because of peak oil.

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