A new program is helping people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds to take charge of their energy bills during summer, when energy use and household energy bills typically increase.
Delivered in language, in culture, and in community, the Voices for Power ‘Train the Trainer’ Project will turn leaders from seven different cultural and religious communities across Sydney into ‘energy experts’ who can then share energy insights and tips with members of their community, while also advocating on their behalf.
The $200,000 pilot program is a partnership between national energy retailers AGL and Origin Energy, New South Wales electricity distributors Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy and gas distribution company, Jemena. The program will be administered and delivered by Sydney Alliance, a civil society coalition.
Thuy Linh Nguyen, Project Lead of the Voices for Power Project at Sydney Alliance detailed that the Alliance had received feedback from over 1,160 community leaders who shared that many people are experiencing structural, technological, language and other barriers when it comes to understanding energy, or being able to engage in meaningful decisions.
“Our members have told us that they prefer to receive important information in-language and through people and places they’re familiar with and trust, including peers, local community and religious leaders,” said Ms Nguyen.
“This project provides a strong platform for informed community conversations around energy. It’s encouraging to see energy companies come together to help improve energy affordability, advice and outcomes for people across our local communities.”
Speaking on behalf of participating energy companies Jemena’s Managing Director, Frank Tudor, said the program is a first of its kind in Australia.
“As an industry, we want to ensure no one is left behind when it comes to energy,” Mr Tudor said.
“Through this program, we will work closely with people from across the Filipino, Vietnamese, South Asian, Pacific Island and Maori, Jewish, Middle Eastern Christian and Muslim communities to understand what they’re most interested in and concerned about, how they wish to be communicated with, and develop information resources that empower them by being tailored to meet the unique needs of their individual communities.”
“Our ambition is to empower community leaders to support others to take control of their energy concerns, adopt simple energy safety practices, and negotiate a better deal on their power bills,” Mr Tudor commented.
Workshops as part of the Voices for Power ‘Train the Trainer’ Project are expected to commence in March, with the program scheduled to run until December 2021.
For more information about the program visit www.sydneyalliance.org.au/voicesforpower