Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (12:35): (1575) My constituency question is directed to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes, the Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio. My question relates to the portfolio responsibilities of energy, environment and climate change. The Victorian government is providing a one-off $250 power saving bonus for people who are doing it tough. Eligible households include those receiving payments through the pension concession, Austudy, Abstudy or youth allowance programs or those who hold a Department of Veterans’ Affairs gold card. The community outreach partners, including the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Consumer Policy Research Centre, Good Shepherd, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria, the Consumer Action Law Centre and State Trustees Limited, are supporting those who do not have a computer or who need help applying. This program closes on 31 January 2022. My question to the minister is: can the minister please provide me with an update on how the residents of the Western Metropolitan Region are being made aware of this important power saving initiative? I encourage everyone who is doing it tough to apply for this amazing support.
Lily D’Ambrosio MP, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes (23 December 2021):
Thank you for your question in relation to the $250 Power Saving Bonus program.
The Power Saving Bonus program was announced on 1 February 2021 as part of the Victorian Government’s 2020-21 State Budget. Since the program was launched, more than 340,000 applications have been submitted for the bonus, with over 335,000 applications having already been approved, and more than 325,000 of those applicants having already had the $250 payment deposited into their nominated account.
Of the 335,000 applications that have been submitted, more than 55,600 have come from the Western Metropolitan Region.
The Victorian Government is committed to increasing awareness of the availability of the $250 Power Saving Bonus and supporting eligible vulnerable and hard-to-reach households to apply.
Since the Community Outreach Program commenced on 1 February 2021, more than 34,000 Victorians have received in-person or over-the-phone support through a participating community organisation to submit an application for the $250 payment. In-person support is currently available through over 200 Neighbourhood Houses across Victoria, and the Consumer Policy Research Centre is delivering onsite support at public housing locations. Over-the-phone support is also available through the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, Consumer Action Law Centre, Consumer Policy Research Centre, Department of Environment, Land ,Water and Planning Customer Contact Centre and Good Shepherd.
The Victorian Government is also undertaking targeted advertising to increase awareness and encourage eligible households to apply for the $250 bonus via the Victorian Energy Compare website or through the Community Outreach Program. A targeted campaign commenced in November and will continue until the program ends on 31 January 2022. The campaign targets key eligible groups including pensioners, jobseekers, disability support pensioners and students, with a focus on key metropolitan and regional areas with the highest concentration of remaining eligible households including Western Metropolitan areas such as Brimbank, Hume and Wyndham.
More information on the Power Saving Bonus and the community organisations participating in the Community Outreach Program can be accessed by visiting http://www.compare.energy.vic.gov.au/psb-outreach or calling the Victorian Energy Compare helpline on 1800 000 832.