Stakeholder Liaison and Access to Services
Effective engagement with key stakeholder groups is essential to the achievement of effective complaint resolution, increased awareness of the services provided by the Office and identification and addressing of systemic issues. The Office does this through:
- Continuous liaison and communication with key stakeholders including Member organisations (electricity, gas or water providers), regulators and industry-based Ombudsmen; and
- Ensuring ongoing access to its services for residential and small use customers, and community groups who represent them.
In 2016-17, the Energy and Water Ombudsman Board approved a revised Communications Strategy 2017-21. This strategy identifies activities designed to enhance the promotion of, and access to, the Energy and Water Ombudsman by key stakeholders. Further details about these activities are detailed in this section.
The Office regularly liaises with a number of key stakeholders. This continuous communication and feedback process allows the Office to better understand relevant industry issues and to encourage best practice and leadership in dispute resolution.
In order to achieve effective dispute resolution, the Office liaises closely with Member organisations. The Office was involved in regular meetings with Members as outlined below:
- In August and November 2016, and May 2017, the Energy and Water Ombudsman met with the Chief Executive Officer of Western Power. Energy and Water Ombudsman staff also met with Western Power regarding ongoing liaison and the resolution of complaints;
- In October 2016 and April 2017, the Deputy Energy and Water Ombudsman met with the General Manager Customer and Community, Water Corporation. Energy and Water Ombudsman staff also met with the Water Corporation throughout the year regarding ongoing liaison and the resolution of complaints;
- In November 2016 and March 2017, the Energy and Water Ombudsman met with the Chief Executive Officer of Synergy. Energy and Water Ombudsman staff also met with Synergy throughout the year regarding ongoing liaison and the resolution of complaints;
- Energy and Water Ombudsman staff met with Horizon Power regarding ongoing liaison and the resolution of complaints;
- In January 2017, the Director of Energy and Water met with Perth Energy regarding ongoing liaison and the resolution of complaints; and
- In February 2017, the Deputy Energy and Water Ombudsman and Director Energy and Water consulted with senior representatives from Synergy, Water Corporation, Western Power, Alinta, Kleenheat Gas and Horizon Power, on the proposed Energy and Water Ombudsman Budget for 2017-18.
The Economic Regulation Authority
During 2016-17, the Office continued its regular interaction with the industry regulator, the Economic Regulation Authority (ERA). The Office was involved with meetings and liaison with the ERA as outlined below:
- In September and December 2016 and March 2017, the Director Energy and Water attended meetings with the ERA’s Consumer Consultative Committee (ERACCC). The ERACCC meets quarterly to provide comment to the ERA on issues affecting consumers that fall within the ERA’s jurisdiction;
- In August and November 2016 and February and May 2017, the Director Energy and Water attended liaison meetings with senior staff of the ERA;
- In October 2016, the Director Energy and Water attended the Water Regulatory Managers Forum, organised by the ERA, and made a presentation on the Energy and Water Ombudsman Western Australia;
- In June 2017, the Senior Investigating Officer Energy and Water attended the ERACCC’s 2017 Biennial Seminar: Alternative Dispute Resolution and provided closing remarks; and
- In June 2017, the Chairperson of the Energy and Water Ombudsman Board and the Deputy Energy and Water Ombudsman met the Chair and Acting Chief Executive Officer of the ERA.
Liaison and collaboration with other industry-based Ombudsmen provides an opportunity for the Office to benchmark its performance and stakeholder communication activities against other similar agencies, and to identify areas for improvement through the experience of others. A summary of the liaison with these industry bodies is outlined below:
- The Energy and Water Ombudsman attended the Australia and New Zealand Energy and Water Ombudsman Network (ANZEWON) meetings via teleconference in November 2016 and May 2017. ANZEWON provides a forum for utility industry Ombudsmen in Australia and New Zealand to enhance effectiveness, efficiency and appropriate consistency of complaint handling across the jurisdictions. Members are able to share appropriate information and jointly consider emerging consumer issues;
- The Energy and Water Ombudsman attended the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) Annual General Meeting and joint Members meeting via teleconference in November 2016. ANZOA is a peak group for Parliamentary and industry-based Ombudsmen in Australia and New Zealand. It acts as a network for consultation and discussion for Ombudsmen on matters of interest, concern or common experience. Staff participated in regular special interest group meetings with ANZOA Members via teleconference, including: Customer Hardship, Systemic Issues, Policy and Research and Public Relations and Communications.
Access to Services
Community Awareness and Accessibility
The Office continued to utilise various communication methods to ensure access to its services for the community, including:
- In July 2016, the Energy and Water Ombudsman attended a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event - What's on WA's energy agenda?;
- In October 2016, Energy and Water Ombudsman staff provided a stall, with information on the Energy and Water Ombudsman, at the Financial Counsellors’ Association of Western Australia’s 2016 conference: Neither Love Nor Money – breaking the silence;
- In November 2016, Energy and Water Ombudsman staff attended Homeless Connect and provided information on the Energy and Water Ombudsman;
- In 2016-17 the Office continued the Regional Awareness and Accessibility Program (the Program), with visits to Broome in the Kimberley in July 2016 and Carnarvon in the Gascoyne in June 2017. The Program is an important way for the Energy and Water Ombudsman to raise awareness of, and access to, its services for regional and Aboriginal Western Australians. Energy and Water Ombudsman information sheets are distributed and Energy and Water Ombudsman staff deal with enquiries and complaints about the electricity, gas and water services providers during complaint clinics which form part of regional visits.
Speeches and Presentations
Throughout the year, Energy and Water Ombudsman staff delivered presentations on the role of the Energy and Water Ombudsman and how the Energy and Water Ombudsman may be able to assist members of the local community.
‘Ask the Ombudsman’ on 6PR Perth Tonight
The Office continues to provide access to its services through the Energy and Water Ombudsman’s regular appearances on Radio 6PR’s Perth Tonight program. Listeners who have complaints about electricity, gas or water providers or want to make other enquiries about the Energy and Water Ombudsman jurisdiction can call in and speak with the Energy and Water Ombudsman live on the air. The segment also allows the Office to communicate key messages about the Energy and Water Ombudsman jurisdictions and the outcomes that can be achieved for members of the public. The Energy and Water Ombudsman appeared on the ‘Ask the Ombudsman’ segment in August 2016 and May 2017.
Energy and Water Ombudsman Website
The Energy and Water Ombudsman website provides a wide range of information and resources for members of the public on the complaint handling process provided by the Office.
The website content and functionality are continually reviewed and improved to ensure there is maximum accessibility to all members of the diverse Western Australian community. The site provides information in a wide range of community languages.
Links to Energy and Water Ombudsman publications and useful links to external websites are used throughout. The site also features an online form for complainants to use to lodge a complaint. The site can be accessed at
The Energy and Water Ombudsman provides publications to assist complainants to understand the role of the Energy and Water Ombudsman and the Energy and Water Ombudsman’s complaint process.
The Energy and Water Ombudsman’s complaint forms and information sheets are translated into 15 community languages to ensure accessibility for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The translated forms and information feature on the website and are available in hard copy on request.
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