• News
  • Lighting the way: Innovative partnership provides path to financial support

Lighting the way: Innovative partnership provides path to financial support

As cost-of-living pressures escalate, energy network businesses are working collectively with government and other industries to provide support to customers. We take a further look at an innovative partnership that is giving more Australians access to financial counselling services.  

What is financial counselling? 

Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide information, advice, and advocacy to people in financial difficulty, working with people who are in debt or are not able to meet their ongoing expenses. Importantly, their services are non-judgmental, free, independent, and confidential. 

As highlighted by Financial Counselling Australia, more than 2.5 million Australians (13% of the population) live in households of high financial stress.  

Financial counsellors help people understand their financial position, understand their rights and responsibilities, and access other services that they may need, such as health and legal services. Approximately 125,000 face-to-face clients are helped each year by financial counsellors and more than 130,000 calls are made to the National Debt Helpline.

Industry partnership to increase support 

Following a review into the coordination and funding of financial counselling services undertaken by Louise Sylvan AM in late 2023, the Minister for Social Services announced an innovative industry funding model that will increase access to financial counselling services for Australians.  

The Government is partnering with the energy, banking, insurance, gambling, and telecommunication industries to implement a new Industry Funding Model for Financial Counselling, with three-year voluntary funding commitments from industry totalling around $35 million.  

The Government has estimated that the extra funds flowing to financial counselling services as a result of the Industry Funding Model could help around 30,000 people access services like face-to-face appointments with financial counsellors or the National Debt Helpline. 

The Independent Body to oversee the Industry Funding Model has now just been established and will have seven inaugural members including former CEO of CHOICE Peter Kell, former ASIC Commissioner Greg Tanzer and the current Deputy CEO of the Australian Banking Association Vanessa Beggs. 

Network businesses proud to play a role 

Energy is not a luxury; it is an essential service.  

Network businesses understand the importance for Australian families to be able to keep the lights on and to heat and cool our homes and recognise that cost-of-living pressures are increasing in many aspects of our daily lives. 

Financial counsellors play a vital role and make a difference to the lives of Australians, and network businesses are committed to supporting those customers doing it tough.  

That is why, alongside a portfolio of customer support measures, ENA and its members are proud to financially support this partnership in a meaningful way, in collaboration with the likes of the Australian Energy Council and the Australian Banking Association. This builds on a range of financial contributions offered over time directly by a number of ENA members, to help deliver practical and targeted assistance to customers experiencing cost of living pressures.