This week is Anti-Poverty Week. A significant driver of poverty is the high cost of utilities.

In the lead up to the ACT election, and as part of Anti-Poverty Week, Vinnies is highlighting the importance of affordable energy bills in preventing poverty.

Sally* lives with several medical conditions including Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, is in public housing and gets by with the Disability Support Pension.

Whilst she is incredibly grateful for the house she is in, it is over 60 years old and had no heating or insulation.

“The energy bills were building up, and I couldn’t get them down,” said Sally. Costing over $1800 a quarter, Sally could not live comfortably while paying the bills.

“Living on the DSP is a struggle... every quarter I’d get a bill and feel quite helpless,” described Sally.

Eventually Sally was connected to Vinnies Actsmart Energy Efficiency Program, funded by the ACT Government.

Sally had her heater and fridge upgraded and new curtains hung. Linda from Vinnies also helped Sally negotiate with her energy provider for some support.

Sally’s comfort has since increased, and stress has been relieved, thanks to the Energy Efficiency Program.

“The difference since Linda came is remarkable, both economically and with basic health,” said Sally.

To prevent more people like Sally struggling to pay their energy bills, Vinnies supports the call to mandate the minimum energy efficiency standards for all public and private rental properties.

Vinnies strongly supports the ACTCOSS call for the incoming Government to commit to all new residential properties meeting Universal Design Standards to make them accessible to all people regardless of age, disability or other factors.

“We at the St Vincent de Paul Society, work towards a future in which every person can live a full and meaningful life,” says Mr John Feint, President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.

“Too many of the families and individuals we support struggle to cover the cost of their most basic needs, like food or rent, leaving little room to think beyond the next meal or bill,” Mr Feint describes.

“It is imperative that those who are already experiencing disadvantage can be supported, and don’t have additional stress due to worrying about utility bills and costs.”

For the full Election Statement visit:

*Name changed to protect the individual
16 October 2020