The Australian Energy Market Commission has released a consultation paper examining whether the National Energy Retail Rules need to change to better protect customers affected by family violence.
Family violence can cause both physical and psychological harm, particularly to women and children. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that one in six Australian women have experienced violence by a current or previous intimate partner. Evidence also suggests the incidence and severity of family violence has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perpetrators can use essential services, including energy, to control and inflict financial harm on victims in a number of ways. These include:
- insisting an account be in the victim’s name and refusing to contribute to the cost
- holding the account in their own name and not paying bills, resulting in disconnection
- threatening to have the service cut off when they leave the family home.
A conservative estimate is that economic abuse occurs in 50 per cent of family violence cases.
This rule change request from Red Energy and Lumo Energy aims to better support consumers affected by family violence by requiring retailers to provide assistance, protect consumers’ personal information and publicise external support services available.
The Commission welcomes stakeholders’ views on the proposal, as well as whether there are matters beyond those considered in the proposal that should be addressed, or approaches from other sectors that the Commission should consider.
Submissions are due by 3 March 2022.
Visit the project page for more information and contact details.