CASE STUDY: Helping the state communicate its policy.
The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) is the largest of the Victorian Government’s seven departments. Its remit includes energy policy and programs, advising the Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio (MLA). Our communications services specifically supported the team devising a new energy efficiency policy for the state.
A newly elected, ambitious, state government, arrives in office intent on seeing Victoria improve its energy efficiency and productivity; and as a consequence its economic competitiveness and jobs growth. Climate change is back on the agenda. A long standing public concern around energy affordability remains pivotal as well. Energy efficiency action has the potential to deliver on all fronts.
The challenge was to genuinely engage Victoria in a discussion about the best road to take to make the state a more efficient user of electricity and gas. Diverse and deeply vested stakeholders represent a range of community and business interests, and their views will be instrumental in developing a statement, and later strategy, on the government’s approach. In addition to the energy sector and energy services industry, interest in this policy work is high among the welfare sector, consumer advocacy sector, property sector, unions, environmental organisations and local government among others.
Energy policy, and energy efficiency in particular, also intersects with a range of longstanding contextual issues concerning consumers including:
- Rising energy bills, negatively impacting the cost of living.
- Opaque choices in the energy retail market.
- Lack of action on climate change.
- Need for jobs growth, in the shadow of the decline in Victorian manufacturing.
Much communication around government policy and climate change gets stuck on describing the problem, and then the (often complex, fragmented) solution(s). It regularly fails to imagine what lies beyond, what society we will have should the policy be successful in achieving its aims.
We started our work with the department by helping to articulate a vision for what an energy efficient Victoria would be. What this would mean for all audience and interest groups? We considered: households, business, the energy sector, the property sector, employers, and beyond.
We then collaborated with policy makers to:
- Develop a public and stakeholder communications strategy, incorporating agreed engagement tactics such as a Ministerial roundtable, and including an action plan for delivery.
- Edit, design and deliver a well articulated and compelling Energy Efficiency Statement, incorporating input from genuine consultation with stakeholders and the community.
- Deliver media materials, social media content, web content, and content marketing materials, supported by a briefing strategy to procure third-party endorsement.
- Launch the statement publicly, and develop options for further engagement including strategies for consultation via the energy efficiency summit.
“Ellis Jones supported us from the outset in developing a vision for energy efficiency and articulating it. Their sector knowledge – both around energy and the way government works – meant their advice was always informed by context. They recommended creative, easy-to-execute engagement strategies to deliver on our overarching objectives, and supported us to communicate a policy approach born of genuine consultation.”
Helen Sofele, Principal Policy Officer –Energy Efficiency, Dept of Economic Development
In June 2015, the Victorian Government released its Energy Efficiency and Productivity Statement: Saving energy, growing jobs, directly and successfully reaching thousands of interest groups, businesses, and stakeholders. Supported by clear and concise web copy, social media content, and content marketing for distribution by key partners, the statement was placed in the hands of all those who should know about it. Many third party organisations publicly supported the approach to energy efficiency – indicative of the success of prior consultation to genuinely seek out the best ideas to inform the policy focus.