Regional Queenslanders will have greater access to financial support to help respond to COVID-19 impacts with a new partnership agreement between Ergon Energy Retail, as part of Energy Queensland, Powerlink Queensland and ICAN Learn.
The $80,000 partnership program will offer seven fully paid financial counselling scholarships over a two-year period to be delivered by Cairns-based registered training organisation, ICAN Learn.
The program will also deliver energy literacy and efficiency learning webinars to help community organisations better help customers struggling to navigate electricity costs.
ICAN Learn CEO Aaron Davis said for many communities and households around the state, the impacts of the pandemic would be felt for a long time to come.
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“We’re pleased to be involved in this regional response to the ongoing financial impacts of COVID-19. When government, industry and the community sectors work together, we can maximise impact. Through the use of video conferencing technology, we’re hoping to reach communities that have limited access to services,” Mr Davis said.
Energy Queensland CEO Rod Duke said it was important to support the community services sector, as they’re on the frontline assisting Queensland households.
“We are committed to improving energy literacy for our customers across regional Queensland, which is why we are excited to support ICAN Learn in building the financial counselling capacity through our scholarship program.
“Our aim is to ensure that even our most remote customers have access to the information and services they need,” Mr Duke said.
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Powerlink Chief Executive Paul Simshauser said an important part of the process was seeking advice from key consumer groups on what support could be offered to customers in financial crisis because of the pandemic.
“Their overwhelming feedback was that the most difficult part for a lot of families was still to come, so getting more trained people on the ground to provide support was critical,” Mr Simshauser said.
“We’re so pleased to be delivering this program in partnership with Ergon Energy Retail and ICAN Learn, and in regional areas across Queensland.”
Applications open on August 10, with a webinar held on August 12 to outline further details of the scholarships and what’s involved for those interested.
A selection panel of Ergon Energy Retail, Powerlink Queensland, ICAN Learn and Financial Counsellors’ Association of Queensland will consider applications in October, with scholarships kick starting in mid-November.