Tapping into concerns
BALDIVIS tops the list of metropolitan suburbs with the most customers cut off by the Water Corporation in 2016-17.
There were 41 cut-offs in Baldivis, with Ellenbrook second with 39 cut-offs.
The Water Corporation is planning to spend about $300,000 over the next three years on a new policy officer tasked with providing insight into the hardships faced by struggling WA households, in partnership with the WA Council of Social Service (WACOSS).
WACOSS deputy chief executive Jennie Gray said extra representation for consumers could play an important role in ensuring “water services remain affordable and sustainable”.
“The voice of consumers is essential in developing the support, concessions and awareness needed to enable vulnerable consumers to engage in utilities markets,” she said.
“Without it, the community and consumers cannot be assured that their interests will be considered or protected.”
The partnership is part of a new approach taken by the Water Corporation when dealing with people behind on their bills.
Water Minister Dave Kelly said the new procedures, trialled over the past year, played a key role in reducing the number of WA households denied access to free-flowing water because of outstanding bills.
The number of customers who had their water reduced to a flow of just 2.3 litres per minute, an amount enough to sustain life but not shower, increased from 2070 in 2014-15 to 2467 in 2016-17.
So far in 2017-18, 638 customers have had their water turned off.
“With these new procedures in place, the number of WA families whose water has been shut off has more than halved,” Mr Kelly said.
The cost of water was put up for debate in November when an Economic Regulation Authority report suggested customers could be saved $400 per year if charges were www.communitypix.com.au d479670 reset to reflect the cost of providing the service.
Dr Gray said WACOSS would work with the Water Corporation to ensure it provided assistance and did not push people into further hardship.
“Defaulting on bills for utilities, such as water, is a common signal of people facing hardship as they understandably prioritise keeping food on the table and paying their rent to keep a roof over their heads,” she said.
Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said struggling customers could seek assistance under the Hardships Utility Grant Scheme. If you need help, visit www.watercorporation.com.au.
Marc Kenly, Bruno Trolio, Hish Hunmzy and Sam Labrosciano get ready for the Big Brews Beach Party.