Energy Hardship Inquiry - Final Report

In February 2015, the Victorian Government requested the Essential Services Commission (ESC) launch an Inquiry into best-practice financial hardship programs of Victorian energy retailers, following record high customer disconnection rates in 2013-14.

The ESC published its final report regarding the Inquiry, titled Supporting Customers, Avoiding Labels, in March 2016.

The final report found energy company hardship programs are not preventing customers from building up large debts or being disconnected, customers are not getting the assistance they need and many of the current rules cannot be enforced.

As a result, many Victorians are falling deeper into debt with little hope of avoiding disconnection or repaying their debt.

Under proposed changes from the Essential Services Commission, energy retailers may have to:

  • provide assistance that matches the type of payment difficulty a customer is having
  • defer debt repayment for up to two years for customers experiencing serious payment difficulties and allow them to stay connected to their power supply on a pay-as-you-go arrangement
  • work with customers to help reduce their energy use and access other support.

The Victorian Government will now work closely with the Essential Services Commission, as it consults on the proposed changes. It is expected the new framework will come into effect on 1 July 2017.

While this transition takes place, energy retailers will continue to support pre-existing and new hardship customers under the current framework.

Customers who enter the energy hardship framework from 22 March 2016, will transition to the new framework on 1 July 2017.

Following the commencement of the framework, an expert panel will monitor and report on the new arrangements.

A copy of the Essential Service Commission's final report is available at

A copy of the Minister for Energy and Resources' media release is available at

Page last updated: 18/06/19