The BULB  •  Keeping ConnectEd  •  25 September 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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Another quick ConnectEd update

Here in South Australia, the COVID-19 situation has stabilised over recent months, and ConnectEd has returned to providing face-to-face support, as well as being available online and on the phone. COVID-safe procedures allow us to once again visit you at home and work, and to invite folks in to meet with us.

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



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Affordable phone service

ConnectEd has developed a new resource looking at affordable SIM-only phone phone tower

The information sheet includes a list of phone plans at different price points, starting at $10 or less per month, and some questions to think about before making the right purchase.

The resource can be downloaded from the ConnectEd website.
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AER's Statement of Expectations

The Australian Energy Regulator has called on the energy sector to continue supporting customers though the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The AER released its Statement of Expectations of energy businesses early in the crisis, and updated it in July. The statement says that energy is an essential service, and seeks to support both the customers and the businesses in the energy markets. It asks businesses to support customers by holding off disconnections, debt collections, and credit defaults until at least 31 October. It also makes plain that customers who can pay their bills must do so, to ensure the ongoing viability of the energy businesses.

The updated Statement makes it clear that customers that do not pay but have not made contact with their retailer CAN be disconnected - it is essential that customers in financial distress contact their retailers and negotiate a payment plan or hardship arrangement.
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Financial Counselling services

Financial Counselling services, including ConnectEd's, are bracing for the scheduled reductions to financial support and winding back of COVID-19 protections for households regarding energy and housing costs.

During the last six months, financial counselling clients changed - old clients received an income boost, and needed less help; however, a new cohort found themselves in need of support for the first time.

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


Choose from two delivery options: face-to-face training at Bowden over two days in October, or online training via Zoom over five weekly sessions through October and November.                   

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.

Day 1: Wednesday 21 October 9:30 - 4:30
Day 2: Thursday 22 October 9:30 - 4:30
at UCWB, 77 Gibson Street, Bowden.
Register here

Tuesdays from 13 October 1:00 - 2:30
5 weeks: 13, 20, 27 Oct & 3, 10 Nov
Register here

Information sessions carefully resumed


After initially suspending face-to-face information sessions, we're now providing some sessions for small groups, and meeting with some groups online. If you know a group that would like to learn about utilities, do get in contact with us - we can work with you to provide safe and appropriate education sessions.

Watch the BULB and the ConnectEd Events page to keep you up-to-date as things change.

Regular "Bring Your Utility Bill" sessions have resumed at Christies Beach, Smithfield, and Beulah Park, with more in the pipeline.

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 Assessments by telephone or video call


ConnectEd has experienced Energy Assessors who can provide community members with home energy audits and give tailored energy advice. This service is available over the phone, in accordance with social distancing measures, with a face-to-face follow-up in the home when needed.

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: If you have seen a financial counsellor or if you have attended ConnectEd community information sessions you are also eligible.
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Let's work together to support our community

Many in the community sector are bracing to see what the next six months will bring.

The South Australian government has put in place a moratorium on evictions of tenants who can prove their financial hardship is due to COVID-19. This moratorium has been extended to 28 March 2021; however, rent deferred will mount up and need to be paid eventually. Tenants in hardship should ensure they are clear on whether they negotiate a rent deferral or a reduction.

Similarly, deferred mortgage repayments still attract interest and must be paid eventually.

With reductions to income support unfolding from this week, and rent and mortgage deferrals mounting up for some, utility bills that reflect home isolation efforts could potentially be the last straw for some. 

ConnectEd strongly encourages anyone who is finding their situation financially stressful to contact their bank, landlord, electricity retailer or other creditor early, and to continue to make some payments, where it's possible to do so. Financial counsellors can provide free and very valuable assistance to prioritise and negotiate these payments; ConnectEd's educators can help put the power of knowledge in people's hands.

We look forward to hearing your stories of how people have worked together to weather the extraordinary storms of 2020.
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
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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UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (UCWB) · 77 Gibson Street · Bowden, SA 5007 · Australia

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