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Amend the Energy Retail Code and Customer Service Code to include family violence hardship provisions

Recommendation 109 - Implemented

The Victorian Government work with the Essential Services Commission to:

  • amend the Energy Retail Code and Customer Service Code—Urban Water Businesses to:
  • list minimum eligibility criteria for access to hardship programs
  • include family violence as an explicit eligibility criterion
  • develop industry guidelines for energy and water retailers to require comprehensive and ongoing training of customer service staff to help them identify customers experiencing family violence and financial hardship
  • publicise the availability of dispute resolution mechanisms for people affected by family violence.

What we are doing

The Victorian Government worked with the Commission to ensure that relevant codes and guidelines were developed and promoted to support victims of economic abuse.

The Commission amended the Customer Service Code – Urban Water Businesses, Customer Service Code – Rural Water Businesses and the Energy Retail Code to require businesses to have a family violence policy that, as a minimum, addresses:

  • implementing training and support for frontline staff dealing with customers affected by family violence
  • preventing the disclosure of private and confidential customer information to perpetrators
  • enabling customers to access existing payment difficulty programs provided by businesses
  • minimising the need for customers to repeatedly tell their story to multiple staff
  • referring customers to appropriate support services.

The Commission published a better practice guide with guidance and case examples to support businesses in implementing family violence provisions.

The Commission also established a new payment difficulty framework for energy retailers in October 2017, which requires retailers to comply with its family violence guidelines.

Where we are up to

The amendments to the customer codes required family violence policies and training to be fully implemented from 1 July 2018 for water businesses and from 1 January 2020 for energy retailers.

Timeframe

Implemented. 

 

Who is leading the change

Department of Treasury and Finance