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Last updated: 22 Nov 2021

Family violence support

Your energy and water companies must provide family violence assistance to customers

Family violence is behaviour by a family member that creates fear to control or dominate another member of the family. It can take many forms, including physical violence, sexual violence, and economic and psychological abuse.

Why these changes?

The 2016 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence drew attention to the nature of family violence and the way it affects the lives of victim-survivors.

The Essential Services Commission (ESC), the regulator for the energy and water sectors, worked with family violence experts to find out the role companies can play in providing safe and effective support to customers experiencing family violence.

What’s EWOV’s approach?

The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV) is committed to helping victim-survivors of family violence resolve disputes with their energy and water providers. Our staff are trained to listen to victim-survivors and will consider special circumstances, such as family violence, when finding a fair and reasonable outcome to a case.

Your energy company now needs to provide family violence assistance to customers.

It has to have a family violence policy and meet minimum standards on:

family violence training

Training

It must train employees and anyone acting on its behalf about family violence and how to communicate with affected customers.

family violence account

Account security

It must not give access to confidential information about an affected customer to any other person unless the customer agrees.

family violence customer

Customer service

It must have a secure process so that affected customers don’t have to repeatedly mention their experience of family violence.

family violence debt

Debt management

It must recognise family violence as a potential cause of payment difficulty and take into account the potential effect of debt recovery.

family violence external

External support

It must offer information about support services in a way that’s safe, respectful and appropriate.

family violence evidence

Evidence

It can only seek evidence of family violence in specific cases of debt management and recovery or disconnection (stopping the supply of energy).

Your water company needs to provide family violence assistance to customers.

It has to have a family violence policy and meet minimum standards on:

family violence training

Training

It must give staff ongoing training so they can identify and deal with affected customers appropriately, and apply the company’s family violence policy and procedures.

family violence account

Account security

It must support customer safety by handling information securely and in a way that maintains confidentiality.

family violence customer

Customer service

It must have a process so that affected customers don’t have to repeatedly mention their experience of family violence, and so the company can offer continuity of service.

family violence debt

Debt management

It must outline its approach to debt management and recovery for affected customers.

family violence external

External support

It must offer a way to refer customers who may be affected by family violence to specialist family violence services.

family violence hardship

Hardship

It must recognise family violence as a potential cause of payment difficulty and as a way to access the company’s hardship policy.

Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre

1800 015 188

safesteps.org.au

Victorian 24/7 telephone counselling plus practical support including refuge referral, emergency accommodation, information and support.

WIRE Women’s Information

1300 134 130

wire.org.au

Victorian information service for women requiring support and referrals.

Walk-in centre: 372 Spencer Street, West Melbourne.

Open: Mon–Fri, 9.30am–4.30pm

Men’s Referral Service

1300 766 491

An anonymous and confidential telephone service provided for men by men. Offering a central point of contact for men who want to stop violence or abusive behaviour towards their family members.

Lifeline

13 11 14

lifeline.org.au

Provides 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Women’s Legal Service Victoria

1800 133 302

womenslegal.org.au

Free and confidential legal advice.

Open: Monday 10am–1pm, Tuesday–Thursday 6.30pm–8.30pm and Wednesday 2pm–5pm.

National Debt Helpline

1800 007 007

ndh.org.au

Free, independent and confidential financial counselling service.

Open: Mon–Fri, 9.30am–4.30pm