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The BULB  •  Keeping ConnectEd  •  20 March 2020
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The Bulb – The Bi-monthly Utilities Literacy Bulletin

 

The BULB aims to inform and inspire - a platform for ongoing education and support to community services workers, volunteers and the wider community. This publication is from ConnectEd - Keeping people connected to energy, water and communications.
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A quick ConnectEd update


Well! Didn't things change quickly in the last week!

With new COVID-19 social distancing measures putting face-to-face meetings on hold, and people increasingly working from home where possible, the necessary changes to ConnectEd services are minor compared with the increasing financial fallout for the community at large. 

This update provides clarification on our services, and news on essential services initiatives in these challenging times.

IN THIS ISSUE:

 


 
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Urgent call for support of the community


ConnectEd joins the South Australian Council of Social Service and more than 30 other community services organisations to call on “companies providing essential services such as energy, water, finance, rental housing and telecommunications to take additional steps to support their community during the COVID-19 crisis.


Companies are asked not to disconnect customers; to pause debt collection and bankruptcy proceedings; and to waive penalty and late fees.

In the current climate, disconnections could lead to undesirable scenarios like people being forced to visit family, friends, neighbours to bathe and shower; with fridge and freezer out of action, people will have limited capacity to replenish fresh food; no electricity means no home WiFi or mobile phone recharging, affecting capacity to communicate safely; the list goes on… To face disconnection or eviction right now could be seriously disastrous. Access to essential services is a basic human right at the best of times, and during the pandemic this right must be bolstered not busted.
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Telco initiatives


Some telecommunications companies have announced special responses to the COVID-19 situation.
 

Telstra is providing home broadband customers with unlimited data until 30 April. Post-paid customers can apply for an extra 25GB of data, and some pre-paid customers can apply for an extra 10GB.

Eligible pensioners with a Telstra home phone can make unlimited calls until 30 April.

Telstra currently have restriction in their call centres, with fewer people available to handle customer enquiries, and have asked their customers to use their self-service tools where they can.

Optus has offered their postpaid mobile customers a one-off extra 20GB of data, and eligible prepaid customers will receive 10GB extra when they recharge with $40 or more during April. These offers need to be activated via the My Optus App.

Vodafone is giving their postpaid customers an additional 5GB of data, which will be added on 27 March. They also encourage customers to consider switching to “endless data” plans. Active prepaid customers will receive a one-off 3GB bonus with their next recharge. Additionally, postpaid and active prepaid customers will have unlimited standard national calls until the end of April.

Vodafone has also added state and federal health department websites to their “free-rating” list.
 
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Minister calls for Hardship Measures


The Federal Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, has asked energy companies to apply their hardship provisions to people affected by the COVID-19 crisis.


The Minister assured the community that energy providers are putting in place plans to ensure that energy provision is maintained as the pandemic unfolds.

An announcement of a second Federal Government stimulus package is expected soon.
 
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Financial Counselling services


Financial Counselling services, including ConnectEd's, are scrambling to ensure that this service is available to people facing financial pressures, knowing that essential COVID-19 public health measures are having drastic impacts on income.


To speak to a Financial Counsellor, please contact the National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007.
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2-day Training for Community Workers

 

Face-to-face training is on hold for now while we watch and wait. We'll publish updates via the BULB and on the ConnectEd website.                                        

ConnectEd's 2-day Utilities Literacy Training for Community Workers will teach you about:
- Electricity, Gas and Water in South Australia
- Reading and understanding meters and bills
- Using energy and water efficiently at home
- How to choose an energy retailer and get a good deal
- Concessions, complaints, disputes and hardship
- New technologies and tariff reform.

TERM 1:
Day 1: Thursday 19 March 9:30 - 4:30
Day 2: Thursday 26 March 9:30 - 4:30
at UCWB, 77 Gibson Street, Bowden.
SUSPENDED

TERM 2:
Day 1: Wednesday 20 May 9:30 - 4:30
Day 2: Wednesday 27 May 9:30 - 4:30
at UCWB, 77 Gibson Street, Bowden.
SUSPENDED

Information sessions suspended 

 

For now, our monthly information sessions across four locations in metropolitan Adelaide: Christies Beach, Semaphore Park, Smithfield and Beulah Park, have been SUSPENDED.

Again, we'll use the BULB and the ConnectEd Events page to keep you up-to-date as things change.

Find out here when the next session is offered near you.

See the Events page on the ConnectEd website for more information.

Free Home Energy Visits moving to a telephone service

 

ConnectEd has experienced Energy Assessors who can provide community members with home energy audits and give tailored energy advice. This service will be available over the phone, in accordance with social distancing measures.


Clients need to be referred to this FREE service via ConnectEd staff, so if you know someone who needs help with their household energy costs, send an email to: ConnectEd@unitingcommunities.org. If you have seen a financial counsellor or if you have attended ConnectEd community information sessions you are also eligible.
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Best wishes to you!


We know we can count on you to wash your hands, cover your coughs, keep your distance, and be kind and supportive to those around you!


An extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary loving kindness. We in the community sector are good at that.
The ConnectEd Program supports people to reduce financial hardship associated with electricity, gas, water and communication services.

 

4 ways to manage your energy and water bills

Make sure your energy deal is right for you
Find out if you are eligible for a concession
Be mindful of your consumption – save on energy and water use
Know how to get help if you need it
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The BULB is brought to you by the ConnectEd team at UCWB.
ConnectEd is funded by the Department of Human Services.

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For more information or to give us your feedback
call 8245 7100 or email ConnectEd@ucwb.org.au.
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UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (UCWB) · 77 Gibson Street · Bowden, SA 5007 · Australia

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