EnergyAustralia was one of 12 "trailblazers" – and the first energy company – to launch its Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) today.
The EnergyAustralia FIAP sets out a program of activities and commitments aimed at helping people achieve financial security and independence.
EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna said as a provider of an essential service, the business had seen firsthand how a lack of access to financial services can impact the community.
"For some people our bill is just one of many piling up on the kitchen counter. Financial inclusion is about ensuring all Australians have access to affordable financial services and the support they need to live their lives," Catherine said.
"We support vulnerable customers in a number of ways – through payment plans, matching payment opportunities, debt waivers and other initiatives. But we recognised a broader approach was needed and through our FIAP more Australians will get the help and support they need.
"Being a trailblazer means making a commitment to fairness. It means working with communities, other businesses, customer advocates and government toward a financial system where everyone is included."
The EnergyAustralia Financial Inclusion Action Plan, launched at the Resilient Women Summit in Sydney, contains 19 detailed actions and is designed to:
- Improve EnergyAustralia's understanding of why and how customers face financial exclusion, particularly groups over-represented in hardship statistics
- Understand how EnergyAustralia can improve its products, services, policies and practices to better support vulnerable customers
- Help EnergyAustralia employees better understand financial inclusion, the issues that affect it, and how they can best support customers
- Foster relationships between EnergyAustralia and community groups, advocacy groups and partners in business to lead change and improve lives.
EnergyAustralia's Vulnerability and Recovery Leader Briar Hall said at its heart the program was about doing the right thing.
"Whether they're women, refugees, sufferers of family violence or just someone going through a particularly tough time, people need to know they don't have to struggle alone to keep their lights on. There's support available," Briar said.
She said at EnergyAustralia all employees would become stewards of the FIAP, not just those working directly with vulnerable customers.
Adam Mooney, CEO Good Shepherd Microfinance, said he was excited to have EnergyAustralia among the 12 "trailblazers" for the FIAP program.
"Organisations participating in the FIAP program see corporate social responsibility as more than just a box that has to be ticked. They believe they have a role to play in creating a fairer, more connected community – one where everyone benefits from inclusive economic growth," Adam said.
- EnergyAustralia FIAP (PDF)