ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Community Joint Statement for Healthy Affordable Homes

17 July 2019

All Australians deserve a healthy, safe, affordable home.

Community organisations call for a national strategy for low energy homes.

Rapidly rising energy prices over the last decade have left many Australians struggling to afford the energy services they need to live a safe and healthy life. But price is only part of the energy hardship equation – how much energy is needed to meet a household’s needs is a significant factor in the size of a bill and its affordability.

Australian building efficiency standards lag behind other major economies, leaving many Australians living in homes that are damp, too cold in winter or too hot in summer. More people die in Australia due to heatwaves than any other natural disaster, while our rate of cold-associated deaths is double that of Sweden.

In attempting to mitigate the impact of poor quality housing, many people are accumulating increasingly unaffordable energy bills. As a result, too many people face the difficult choice between cutting back on energy use to the detriment of their family’s health and safety or going without other essential services such as food and medicine to afford energy bills. In some cases, people are forced to pay the energy bills over paying rent on time and end up homeless.

People on low incomes are particularly vulnerable to energy bill hardship, because they spend significantly more of their income on electricity. And yet, low income households most in need of the bill savings typically have little choice or control in improving the energy efficiency of their homes or access renewable energy, because they cannot afford the upfront costs of upgrades and/or because they rent their homes.

With 3 million people living in poverty and an even larger number renting, there is an urgent affordability, health and economic challenge that needs a coordinated, national and ongoing response. Improving housing energy efficiency must be central to any effort to bring down power bills, and address the health and well-being of households.

In this joint statement, we are calling on government to develop a comprehensive national strategy to improve the energy performance of all Australian homes for the benefit of its citizens.

Read the joint statement below for more information, case studies, first-hand stories from people experiencing energy hardship, and the commitments we're calling on the Australian Government to make to improve housing energy performance.