Our connections

At a glance

One of our roles is to promote our services to people who may need our help. In 2021-22, we delivered a variety of awareness raising initiatives and community outreach activities to spread the word. We grew our connections online through social media campaigns and by publishing timely and informative content on our website.

Our reconciliation journey continued as we finalised our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and entered a period of reflection before developing our next RAP.

Our connections with key peer networks have offered us opportunities to collaborate to drive continual improvement of our services.

Our members – or scheme participants – help to promote the scheme to their customers and provide us with valuable feedback. This year, we worked with them on outreach and information sessions along with an online panel discussion with financial counsellors.

Drawing on our insights and experiences with customers and suppliers, we made policy submissions on a variety of issues relevant to energy and water consumers.

In detail

Raising awareness

During 2021-22, we connected with a range of community organisations throughout Queensland with a focus on information sessions for community workers, visits to community and neighbourhood centres, and attendance at interagency meetings.

These activities aim to ensure that customers in financial difficulty and other vulnerable situations know about our service. It also gives our team a chance to learn more about issues customers are facing with their energy and water.

We also connected with consumers directly at financial literacy sessions, community expos, anti-poverty week and seniors’ week events.

We fostered strong connections with community workers and financial counsellors by attending the Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) conference and by hosting webinars in partnership with the Financial Counsellors’ Association of Queensland (FCAQ).

Stories about us featured in the Courier Mail, Gold Coast Bulletin, Townsville Bulletin, Gympie Today, South Burnett Today and Council Leader, a quarterly magazine published by the Local Government Association of Queensland.

Supporting regional Queensland

During 2021-22, team members travelled to Barcaldine, Bundaberg, Cairns, Cardwell, Cherbourg, Emerald, Gold Coast, Gympie, Hinchinbrook, Innisfail, Kingaroy, Longreach, Rockhampton, Townsville and Yarrabah. While in these regions we provided information to help customers understand the issues we can help with, and their rights and responsibilities when making a complaint.

We also participated in face-to-face and online interagency meetings throughout the year. These meetings allow us to connect with community workers and government services in a particular region to find out about local issues and how we can help.

Connecting online

Building awareness online and engagement through our website and social media channels has been a growing focus this year. With a 15% increase in total follower count, our social media reach has grown by 63% during 2021-22, and in April we added Instagram as our fourth channel. During the year, we published 451 posts reaching more than 395,000 people and ran several online campaigns targeting lower socio-economic regions, young people living in share houses, families, small businesses, and flood-affected consumers.

We also added value through our online content, publishing timely and informative articles about common energy and water issues, and letting Queenslanders know how we can help.

We collaborated with FCAQ to deliver a webinar series focused on energy literacy for financial counsellors. We also presented a webinar with the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) focused on water bill hardship, and joined a meeting with one of their stakeholder groups to talk about our new embedded network service.

First Nations outreach

One of the priorities of our outreach program is to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people become confident and informed consumers, and ensure they are aware of their right to assistance with issues relating to their energy services, and water services for customers in South East Queensland.

During 2021-22, we continued to grow our connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support networks. We visited community leaders in Cherbourg to discuss energy issues unique to their community and took part in the Yarrabah Yarnin’ Energy Day. We participated in the Moreton Bay Murri Network and attended the Murri Expo at Morayfield in May.

Our Reconciliation Action Plan

As an independent dispute resolution service, we’re passionate about creating equal opportunities for all, and a culture of respect and understanding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Our reconciliation journey

Our relationship with First Nations people, organisations and communities is important to the success of the work we do.

In December 2021, we finalised our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Our key achievements from this RAP centred on strengthening and growing our First Nations networks and partnerships while providing a service with manners, respect and courtesy to First Nations consumers.

This work involved fostering professional and community partnerships and using our influence in the wider community to engage, encourage and promote partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations.

We continued to look for opportunities to develop cultural competency and capacity across our team. In July 2021, we launched an online cultural training program, Starting the Journey, to complement our new cultural learning strategy. By 30 June 2021, 88% of team members had completed the program.

Continuing the journey

On the recommendation of Reconciliation Australia, we started a 12-month reflection period in January 2022. During the reflection period, the RAP working group continue to meet monthly to discuss ways to continue to embed our reconciliation practices across the organisation.

This included marking key days of significance and encouraging team members to join NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week celebrations.

For National Reconciliation Week 2022, we launched a travelling canvas, with team members from each of our 3 offices invited to add a painted handprint to the canvas in either red, yellow or black from the Aboriginal flag, or blue or green from the Torres Strait Islander flag. The canvas made its way from Cairns to Rockhampton then onto Brisbane, where it will be displayed in our office.

Our connections

We have maintained strong productive working relationships with peak and representative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations throughout Queensland, including the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN).

By meeting to discuss common issues and working collaboratively, we gain a greater understanding of energy and water issues experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, and how we can help.

Understanding the importance of procurement opportunities for First Nations-owned businesses, we continued to engage First Nations suppliers during the year.

Key data

How many First Nations consumers contacted us?

227 cases closed for customers identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This represents 4.6% of cases where the customer responded to the First Nations question.

Cases closed 227

Complaints 196:

  • 55% billing
  • 18% credit

By comparison, for complaints where the customer did not identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 65% were about billing and 6% about credit in 2021-22.

Billing = high or disputed bills, metering faults, billing errors, rebates and concessions.

Credit = payment difficulties, hardship and disconnections.

Our contribution to public policy

We contribute to relevant policy and legislative reviews undertaken by government, regulators, not-for-profit organisations and other bodies. We draw on our insights and experiences with customers and suppliers to make submissions on a variety of issues relevant to energy and water consumers.

Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC)

  • Responded to the Metering services directions paper.
  • Consultation and in-principle endorsement of the Better bills guideline.
  • Joint submission with ANZEWON and EWOSA1 supporting the Protecting customers affected by family violence rule change proposal.

Australian Energy Regulator (AER)

  • Joint submission with EWOSA supporting the draft Consumer vulnerability strategy.
  • Supported the objectives of the draft Export tariff guideline.
  • Joint submission with EWOSA broadly supporting Retailer authorisation and exemption review – issues paper.

Additional submissions, responses and feedback

  • Joint submission with EWON2, EWOV3 and EWOSA supporting the Energy Senior Officials, Consumer Data Right for Energy – National Electricity Law (NEL) / National Energy Rules (NER).
  • Supported the Queensland Attorney General – Privacy Act Review Discussion Paper.
  • Drafted a response to the ACCC4 – Debt collection agencies.
  • Developed a response to the Department of Energy and Public Works on proposed legislative amendments to the Energy and Water Ombudsman Act 2006.

Key outcomes

Key outcomes from 2021-22 include significant and effective advocacy around the AEMC’s Better bills guideline, supporting vulnerable customers, and supporting appropriate reforms to ensure consumer protection frameworks evolve with the transforming energy landscape.

1 Energy and Water Ombudsman South Australia

2 Energy and Water Ombudsman New South Wales

3 Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria

4 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Peer networks

We maintain strong links with the Australian dispute resolution community as a member of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) and the Australian and New Zealand Energy and Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON). We are also actively involved in cross-sector collaboration through the Thriving Communities Partnership.


ANZOA is committed to high standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness, and its members observe the 6 benchmarks for industry-based customer dispute resolution: accessibility, independence, fairness, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness.

Our team members are actively involved in ANZOA’s 8 interest groups, including:

  • complaints management
  • corporate
  • data and analytics
  • indigenous engagement
  • people and development
  • public relations and communications (facilitated by EWOQ)
  • systemic issues and policy influence
  • vulnerable consumers.

Our ombudsman Jane Pires is the executive sponsor of the public relations and communication interest group, which is facilitated by Sonia Cahill, Manager, Communications and Engagement.


ANZEWON is a network of energy and water ombudsmen and utilities complaints commissioners from across Australia and New Zealand. They work together to explore and address industry and policy developments that affect Australian and New Zealand consumers.

The network supports collaboration and learning to avoid duplication of effort which ensures members can progress projects with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The Ombudsman attended 6 ANZEWON meetings throughout the year.

Thriving Communities Partnership

The Thriving Communities Partnership is a cross-sector collaboration with the goal that everybody has fair access to the modern essential services they need to thrive in contemporary Australia, including utilities, financial services, telecommunications and transport.

Our ombudsman Jane Pires chairs the Queensland chapter, which has focused on a disaster planning and recovery collaborative research project and developing solutions based on this research over the past 12 months. This has helped us connect with different community organisations and to understand more ways we can assist when a community has been involved in a natural disaster.

Our members

This year we welcomed the largest number of new scheme participants in more than 10 years, when embedded network owners and operators became eligible to join on 28 February 2022.

EWOQ is funded by scheme participants through participation fees and user-pays fees. Scheme participants pay an annual participation fee in July (or part-fee if they become a scheme participant during the financial year).

As at 30 June 2022, we had 64 authorised retailer and distributor scheme participants, up from 55 in 2020-21.

From 28 February, exempt sellers with 2,000 or fewer customers were automatically deemed an EWOQ scheme participant. These scheme participants are onboarded as members once there is a complaint against them or they complete an application form. During 2021-22 we onboarded 47 new exempt seller scheme participants.

In October 2021, EWOQ and the FCAQ co-hosted a webinar series called ‘Power and paying’ which brought together scheme participants AGL, EnergyAustralia, Ergon Energy Retail, Origin Energy and Red Energy to talk about challenges and initiatives to support Queensland electricity consumers.

We also hosted the annual energy and water forums to share data insights and service updates with scheme participants. These events also provided a chance for an open discussion with all scheme participants where they can share improvement ideas and any feedback they have on our service.

Member feedback

During March and April 2022, we conducted our annual scheme participant satisfaction survey. This year’s questions were divided into 4 sections:

  • dispute resolution benchmarks
  • interaction with EWOQ
  • dispute resolution processes
  • satisfaction with EWOQ as a scheme.

The first section – dispute resolution benchmarks – is based on the 6 benchmarks for industry-based customer dispute resolution. In 2021-22, the dispute resolution benchmark satisfaction scores – rating our accessibility, fairness, accountability, efficiency, effectiveness and independence – ranged between 75% and 87%.

Satisfaction with our dispute resolution processes rated between 74% and 76%. Overall satisfaction with our scheme was 77% (down from 85% in 2021). There was a 9% increase in satisfaction with awareness and promotion (79%) and a 6% increase in satisfaction with our scheme accessibility (90%) in the 2022 survey results.

These insights are used to improve our processes and services to build stronger relationships with our scheme participants across both the energy and water industries.

Promoting external dispute resolution

This year, we collaborated with EWON, EWOV and EWOSA to promote the expectations of members promoting external dispute resolution (EDR) to their customers.

EDR gives customers a free, fair and independent option for their complaint. Ensuring customers know about and can access EDR is vital—particularly as business activity returns to normal and debt  collections  and disconnections resume.

See the official copy of the 2021-22 annual report, as tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, on the Queensland Parliament's tabled papers website.