Working in partnership to assist vulnerable consumers to decrease their energy costs.

Learn more about this project

Challenge

Energy prices are on the rise. Vulnerable consumers are particularly affected – energy is a source of stress and confusion. The Energy Affordability Training Partnership, Victorian Government funded collaboration between Ellis Jones, the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) and Community Information & Support Victoria (CISVic) addresses these issues by providing Emergency Relief (ER) workers with the training and resources to assist vulnerable households to reduce their energy costs.

Response

Ellis Jones employed the full breadth of agency experience and skill to cover three key elements of the project; co-design, material creation & design, and evaluation. This involved:

  • Co-design: Facilitating a co-design workshop with policymakers, front line workers and community organisations to map common challenges, ideate and prioritise interventions. Smaller, 1-1 co-design sessions were held with ER workers and their clients involving a range of hands-on activities to understand client personas, communication methods and channels and information needs.
  • Material creation & design: Incorporating the research findings, Ellis Jones co-wrote, designed and developed a toolkit of resources (fact sheets, videos, posters, bill reading tools, flowcharts) to assist vulnerable consumers to engage with the energy market and reduce energy costs. Designed materials needed to be accessible for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Block colours, geometric shapes, and large-scale numbering was used to represent each key area of information. The materials were also written in easy English to ensure that key information was understood.
  • Evaluation: Developing a measurement framework during the initial stages of the project with baseline data collected prior to the start of training. We will be conducting evaluation activities in coming months.

Outcomes

The project has:

  • Provided ER workers with the confidence and skills to better support vulnerable communities to reduce their energy bills and associated stress and anxiety.
  • Enabled DELWP to identify current program gaps and key areas for their upcoming new policy proposals. This led to the commissioning of a communications strategy to develop a public campaign to inform the wider public of upcoming energy reforms.
  • Enabled the project team to make recommendations to DELWP to vary project goals. These have been accepted by the Department.
  • Informed the decision to take a rights-based approach to consumer education and training. This is currently being implemented.
  • Built new productive relationships between co-design participants, leading to an exchange of resources and information between networks.

Ellis Jones has started the evaluation of the project, which will be completed at the end of 2019.

Discipline