Victorian Government to provide support for residents struggling with energy bills

By Kyabram Free Press

THE Victorian Government announced a $3.7 million package on Wednesday designed to aid residents struggling with their energy bills due to the repercussions of COVID-19.

With many people suddenly experiencing financial hardship due to coronavirus, and all Victorians spending more time at home, bills are expected to become increasingly more difficult to pay for many households.

As a part of this package, financial counsellors will be recruited and trained to help people one-on-one to manage energy bills as well as broader household financial difficulties.

Training will also be provided to more than 1,100 frontline community workers, so they can give targeted advice on dealing with energy bills – including how to get the best deal from energy companies and what existing support is available.

Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the package would help people find support and know their rights.

“When a bill arrives in the mail, we want Victorians doing it tough to know that there is support available,” she said.

“Under our nation-leading reforms, if you engage with your energy company they cannot disconnect you or pursue you for debt — they must help you.

“We have created the strongest hardship protections in the country to make sure Victorian households are guaranteed the support and compassion they deserve. These protections have never been more important.”

The government is also set to launch a new energy brokerage program to give one-on-one support to about 3,000 households at risk of financial hardship to help them get the best value energy deal.

The package will also ensure Victorians know their rights under the Payment Difficulty Framework.

As a part of the government’s nation-leading reforms, energy companies must assist any household that engages with them — this includes putting in place a payment plan or extending bill due dates while customers work towards paying for their energy usage.

No household engaging with their energy company can be disconnected from electricity or gas.