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Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) progress update

All but two of AGL's commitments under the Financial Inclusion Action Plan were delivered. Those not delivered related to subcomponents of broader strategies which remain on track - supporting employees experiencing financial difficulty and progressing a diverse and inclusive workforce leveraging specific recruitment strategies.

Products and Services

Committed Action Statement

Output

Outcome

Timeframe

FY19 Actions Taken

Continue to evolve products and pricing to address the financial circumstances of all AGL customers.

A broad suite of products and pricing tailored to different financial situations.

Customers have greater choice in products and can select those that best meet their individual needs.

Ongoing

Throughout 2018 and 2019 AGL has continued to evolve its products and pricing while maintaining a focus on innovation as well as customers vulnerable to increasing energy costs. For these customers, product and pricing developments have included:
- the extension of our Victorian Price Relief program for a further 12 months ensuring that no concession customer on a Standing Offer experienced a price rise;
- expanding eligibility for the AGL Safety Net discount (an automatic discount applying to residential and small business customers who have been on a standing offer with AGL for one-year or more);
- periodic review to ensure customers participating on our hardship program are on the most suitable product for their needs; and
- the removal of late payment fees for customers on an energy plan featuring a pay-on-time discount.

Increase transparency and simplify products and pricing.

Products and the associated pricing are easier to understand and easier to compare.

Customers can make more informed decisions about the products they select.

Ongoing

AGL expanded our ‘Essentials’ product to all states in July 2018 after first trialling the concept in Victoria in January 2018. AGL Essentials is a simple 12-month fixed low-rate, no discount energy plan. Essentials was iterated throughout 2018 to simplify the proposition further by removing mandatory conditional elements of the offer, making the proposition more appealing to a wider audience. Essentials Plus, introduced in January 2019, builds on the Essentials product by including bonus credits paid to the customer every six months to recognise loyalty.

AGL has also been supportive of and actively involved in industry discussions seeking to implement a reference rate to further improve ease of comparison for customers.

Provide tailored payment plan solutions and research a formal debt relief and payment incentive model for customers experiencing payment difficulties.

A revised payment arrangement framework.
A publicly available debt relief and payment incentive framework for hardship customers.

Vulnerable customers have a reliable framework in which they can partner with AGL to reduce their energy debt and get back on track.

September 2018

After an initial launch in late January in Western Australia, 'Pay My Way' was rolled out across all states in May 2018 with over 4,000 customers having taken it up. This service allows customers to make regular weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments towards their bills. The instalment amounts are of the customer's choosing provided the balance is paid by the bill due. This new service is additional to existing flexible payment options for customers, such as bill smoothing, monthly billing and tailored payment plans established through participation on AGL's hardship program Staying Connected.

In addition to expanding the options for customers seeking flexibility in meeting payment commitments, a $50 million debt relief and payment incentive framework was launched in August 2018 to assist customers participating on AGL's hardship program, Staying Connected. This resulted in over 33,000 customers receiving support between September and December 2018 and 6,000 customers who were able to graduate from the Staying Connected program.

Continue to provide solutions to enable customers to be more engaged with their energy.

Implement Energy Insights.

Customers are more empowered to engage with and manage their energy costs.

June 2018

In May 2018 AGL launched Energy Insights, a tool designed to enable customers with smart meters to take more control over their energy use. Customers receive a personalised email which breaks down energy use into categories such as heating/cooling, standby and hot water, explains the cost associated with each and provides relevant energy efficiency advice.

These powerful insights demystify energy consumption and help customers make informed decisions on their energy usage behaviours and take action to reduce their energy costs.

AGL worked with customers, industry and advocacy groups in the creation of the solution, and undertook dedicated customer research including in-home behavioural interviews, a pilot with 3,000 Victorian smart-meter customers, surveys and feedback sessions.

Capabilities, attitudes and behaviours

Committed Action Statement

Output

Outcome

Timeframe

FY19 Actions Taken

Make it easier for customers to access support.

Deliver a new online portal housing Concessions and Grants information to educate and link customers to support.

Customers are more educated and can easily access a broad range of support options.

April 2018

AGL launched Here to Help in 2018, with further improvements being made to the portal throughout the year based on customer feedback and testing.

By using the portal customers are able to:
- identify eligibility for government grants and energy rebates;
- set up flexible payment arrangements;
- connect with financial counsellors;
- access information on Staying Connected, AGL's hardship program;
- access energy saving tips; and
- build a personalised Action Plan, which can be emailed for future reference.

By March 2019 there had been over 54,000 unique visits to the portal, with 50% of customers going on to create an Action Plan to assist them with their situation. Over 2000 customers had initiated a Utility Relief Grant Scheme application or Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme application through the site, which resulted in over $156,000 in these grants being applied to customer accounts via the portal.

Provide training to all front-line people to ensure needs-based conversations are happening with all customers.

All AGL people have received training.

Frontline staff are better equipped to have personalised conversations and provide personalised outcomes for customers.

December 2018

Throughout 2018 and 2019, AGL has continued to include needs-based training as part of its training for all front-line staff.

Once the 'Assess Needs' module is completed, frontline staff are able to navigate the barriers to displaying empathy with customers, explain the different types of needs customers might have, and effectively use different questioning techniques to uncover customer needs.

Continued promotion of AGL’s Family
and Domestic Violence policy and offer training and awareness sessions to all people.

Continue to promote the AGL Family and Domestic Violence Support policy including access to 10 paid leave days to impacted people, offer training and awareness sessions to all people including introduction of a new Domestic Violence Hotline through the Employee Assistance Program.

AGL people impacted by family violence are provided with additional leave provisions and continued employment whilst working through their situation. Our people will be offered training to raise awareness, to change behaviours and attitudes towards this issue, to continue to foster an environment where people feel safe to speak up and ask for help, and to ensure we can recognise the signs of someone who may need support and confidently respond in a caring and inclusive way.

December 2018

AGL's Safe Space - Family and Domestic Violence Training for people leaders and separate session for employees was offered to people across AGL in 2018. In total, approximately 1,500 employees across AGL sites have attended Safe Space Training in the last 12 months. A Domestic Violence Hotline has also been introduced through the Employee Assistance Program. Front-line staff also receive specific training on AGL's Family and Domestic Violence policy to support customers.

In addition, AGL ran a Safe Space campaign to coincide with UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women featuring employees sharing message of respect and where to go to receive support. At Loy Yang, AGL hosted a Respectful Relationships Exhibition featuring winning artwork from local schools in the Gippsland region, and a Family and Domestic Violence working group was established.

Awareness and understanding of culture and diversity

Committed Action Statement

Output

Outcome

Timeframe

FY19 Actions Taken

Advocate for support measures which deliver an adequate social safety net for all Australians.

Regulatory and policy submissions focus on economic inclusion and call out the need for an increase in adequate social security.

Inadequacies continue to be highlighted and more attention is brought to the issue.

Ongoing

In January 2019, a research paper by members of AGL's applied economics and policy team (The drivers of energy-related financial hardship in Australia) was published in the journal Energy Policy. Among other things, this research highlighted the current inadequacy of social safety nets and the need to review and reform the mechanism for setting the rate of social payments. Other recommendations included the ongoing pursuit of energy concessions reform and addressing barriers to energy efficiency improvements in low income and tenanted properties.

A number of submissions to policy and regulatory processes have also highlighted this issue or touched on other financial inclusion issues.

Contribute to the wellbeing of our people experiencing financial stress.

Investigate the provision of a hardship grant for our people experiencing financial hardship.

A proposed grant framework intended to support our people in reaching financial stability.

December 2018

Investigation of a grant framework is no longer planned. AGL supports financial inclusion and resilience amongst its employees through a number of avenues, including:
- salary continuance insurance cover for all employees experiencing long-term illness;
- the ability for employees experiencing financial hardship to cash-out accrued annual leave; and
- the 'money assist' financial counselling service offered to all employees through the Employee Assistance Program.

Continue to participate as a member of the Australian Veterans Employment Coalition.

A specialised recruitment process for veterans.

Veterans are more likely to be successfully employed in the private sector.

Ongoing

AGL’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy has been refreshed and our commitments as part of the FIAP have been aligned to the focus areas for FY19/20:
- Family and Domestic Violence;
- Gender Equality;
- Flexibility; and
- LGBTI+ inclusion.

Initiatives are in place to support and encourage employment opportunities for these groups through specific training in the Recruitment team to be confident recruiters across these areas of focus and ensure inclusive language in all job advertisements.

Continue to promote policies and practices which seek to overcome the barriers experienced by diverse communities.

Increased promotion and the continued evolution of AGL diversity programs such as the Equality Program, Shine and NAIDOC.

AGL people are more aware and have increased confidence to bring their true self to work and achieve their full potential, bridging the gap to financial inclusion.

Ongoing

AGL's diversity and inclusion programs continued to be strongly promoted during 2018/19. This included International Women's Day 2019 celebrations and increased focus for women and girls to consider career pathways in STEM, hosting events with STEM Sisters and Robogirls.

Membership of AGL's Shine network, focusing on LGBTI+ inclusion, continued to grow throughout 2018 and AGL has been awarded Gold Employer status for LGBTI+ inclusion at AWEI for second year running. The last 12 months have seen sponsorship and employee participation in events such as Midsumma Festival, Mardi Gras Film Festival, Adelaide Feast Fest, Gippsland Pride Cup, the Broken Heel Festival, and Wear It Purple Day celebrations across our sites. A Melbourne foyer exhibition 'Never been a better time to Shine' featured our own people’s stories around their connection to the LGBTI+ community.

AGL's Indigenous Engagement Working Group leads NAIDOC celebrations and National Reconciliation Day with awareness, education and events. AGL is working towards development of its first Reconciliation Action Plan for launch in 2019/20.

Economic participation and status

Committed Action Statement

Output

Outcome

Timeframe

FY19 Actions Taken

Advocate for policy and regulatory frameworks that do not result in social and economic exclusion, both within and outside of the energy sector.

Submissions into regulatory and policy changes that focus on financial inclusion.

Engagement with regulators and policy makers to highlight the importance of financial inclusion.

Regulation and policy that results in financial inclusion.

Reviewed annually

In addition to the published research discussed above (The Drivers of Energy Related Financial Hardship), AGL has continued to contribute to discussion on question related to social and economic inclusion.

AGL is a founding partner of the Thriving Communities Partnership which is focussed on progressing research and practices which ensure that all Australians have access to the modern essential services they require to thrive. Through this partnership, AGL has co-funded research undertaken by the Melbourne University Social Equity Institute considering practices to support consumers with cognitive disabilities.

Following engagement with the Australian Energy Regulator, AGL was the first retailer to include in its hardship policy new measures for the early identification of customers experiencing difficulty paying their bills. The initiative embraces predictive solutions to identify customers at risk of payment difficulty and proactively communicate the supports available through our hardship program, Staying Connected.

Design processes to support the sustainability of our small business partners in local communities.

Change the accounts payable process to reduce payment timeframes for local suppliers.

Healthier cash flow for suppliers through processes that meet their operational needs.

June 2018

AGL is a signatory to the small business supplier payment code. The code is a voluntary initiative to ensure small business suppliers are paid promptly and on time. The code commits signatories to:
- pay eligible Australian small business suppliers on time and within 30 days of receiving a correct invoice; and
- help suppliers implement new technologies and practices to speed up invoicing.

In 2018, AGL delivered the system changes necessary to meet its commitments under the code.

Support and identify the local businesses likely to be impacted by AGL transitioning away from the community.

A segmentation model which highlights the local businesses which are most vulnerable to the change.

Local businesses who will require support are identified and in future, a mitigation plan can be designed to support businesses through the transition.

December 2018

This action was focussed on supporting the community in the Latrobe Valley. AGL, in partnership with Federation University, developed the Enterprise Development Program, a free business development course offered to local vendors vulnerable to change following the closure of Hazelwood and the transition of the local economy away from coal. A segmentation model was developed including an application form and evaluation scorecard.

Where AGL is transitioning out of local communities such as Latrobe Valley and Hunter Valley, we will contribute to the sustainability of the local economy.

Evolve and implement the Transition Plans for the Hunter Valley and Latrobe Valley and ensure coverage across:
- Education;
- Community;
- Local business.

Local economies are better equipped and less impacted by AGL’s transition away from the community.

Ongoing

AGL has developed and continues to evolve a Transition Plan to support our transition away from coal in the Hunter Valley and the Latrobe Valley. This plan includes organisational commitments and specific frameworks and activities designed to support local communities. This Transition Plan will be dynamic and will continue to develop as our knowledge, experience, and partnerships develop and be guided by community needs.

Initiatives developed pursuant to the plan in 2018 include the formation of the Loy Yang Community Dialogue Group, continued engagement through the Hunter Energy Transition Alliance, the establishment of Transition Support Funds at both AGL Loy Yang and AGL Macquarie, continued support of the Enterprise Development Program and the launch of the Liddell Innovation Project.

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