The Human Factor

In the maelstrom of a pandemic, a kind word and a listening ear can make all the difference to people struggling to cope. EnergyAustralia is reaching out and supporting customers on a one-to-one basis as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.

The Human Factor

Luke Maisey is here to help. He spends his days listening to people’s problems, offering them sympathy and advice, and gently helping them to get through their tough times.

“It’s nice to be in a role and a business where I feel I can make a difference and help individuals through this tough time in our country’s history,” he says with a smile.

Luke is one of the 100 new frontline employees taken on in Victoria by EnergyAustralia to support customers amid COVID-19. 


Formerly the manager of a family-owned travel business, he helps customers through the company’s EnergyAssist programme which has been significantly expanded to respond to customers facing difficulties because of the pandemic. 

Luke Maisey
New frontline employee Luke Maisey enjoys helping customers through tough times.

Repairing shattered lives

COVID-19 had had a devastating effect on businesses and employees worldwide. The pandemic’s impact on daily life have led to the closure of many companies, job losses, and forced unpaid leave – and Australia is far from immune.


Australian businesses have grappled with the realities of relocating employees to their homes, closing premises, and laying people off. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that more than half of medium-sized businesses accessed support measures, compared with 42% of small businesses and 38% of large businesses, and a third of all businesses expect to face challenges to meet their financial commitments. 


Employers and employees alike have been affected. Understanding that no two customers’ circumstances are the same, EnergyAustralia is doing its part to offer a helping hand to households and businesses struggling with energy bills by providing tailored hardship assistance. 


Keeping companies fit and healthy

For Melbourne gymnastics academy owner Christy Hemphill, a business customer of EnergyAustralia in Victoria, the flexible bill payment options have been a key factor in helping her business stay afloat during the tough lockdown period. 

Gym owner Christy Hemphill says EnergyAustralia’s support helped keep her business in good shape.

“My EnergyAustralia account manager arranged a three-month payment deferral and switched my plan, so that my costs would be lower going forward,” she explains.

 “This product support was really beneficial for us, because we had all our big energy bills from the summer coming through.” Hemphill was then able to focus her energy on adapting her business model and working towards reopening once restrictions lifted in Victoria. 

EnergyAustralia has been helping small business customers navigate their way through the challenges with a variety of measures. It was one of the first companies in the country to react to the outbreak by providing small businesses with the Rapid Business Assist initiative, a tailored hardship support package.

Under Rapid Business Assist, EnergyAustralia’s specialist advisors work with small businesses to ensure their operations are as energy efficient as possible and using the most cost-effective plans. 

Eligible business customers can also access cash flow advice tailored specifically to their circumstances, as well as free disconnection and reconnection if business premises need to temporarily close.

EnergyAustralia’s Rapid Business Assist Programme:
  • Provides access to the Cashflow Assist programme for eligible customers

  • Offers advice for business customers to plan and prepare for the future, including standard free disconnections and reconnections

  • Ensures the customer is on the right business energy plan

  • Undertakes a free energy-efficiency assessment to help customers reduce energy use

  • Gives advice on state government energy subsidies

As of October 2020, EnergyAustralia’s specialist business advisors have arranged 12,426 payment extensions, and 1,575 payment plans that are tailored for existing customers who cannot afford to pay their bill within the usual billing cycle. EnergyAustralia has also helped 1,070 businesses with their cash flow, as well as providing advice on lowering energy consumption and guidance on government energy relief subsidies.

Keeping the lights on

The pandemic not only has affected business owners but has also had a devastating impact on the employment market. Two-thirds of working Australia have had a change to their employment due to COVID-19, according to a survey by Melbourne-based market research firm Roy Morgan. Those surveyed reported a variety of changes to their working conditions including being stood down, having reduced hours, and working from home. 


EnergyAustralia understand that households experiencing financial distress are usually deeply concerned that their services will be disconnected if they are unable to pay. The company has therefore suspended debt collection and disconnection activities for residential customers participating in its EnergyAssist programme, offering a stay-connected guarantee to ensure households are able to keep the lights on as they work to put their lives back on track.


Measures under the EnergyAssist programme range from a straightforward payment extension to advice on government assistance schemes and access to financial counselling. EnergyAustralia’s hardship advisors can also help residential customers become more energy efficient and reduce their energy costs.


As of October 2020, the EnergyAssist programme is supporting around 23,000 residential customers across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia. In Victoria alone, 100 new frontline employees were hired to assist the increasing number of customers reaching out for support during the pandemic. Luke Maisey is one of them.

Between March and October 2020, EnergyAustralia set up more than 200,000 payment plans and 160,000 payment extensions for residential customers, and have referred thousands of people to government grants that, in many cases, they did not realise they were eligible for.

EnergyAustralia is committed to helping customers cope as the pandemic continues. As an essential service provider, it stands ready to continue to reach out to customers with support initiatives as the people of Australia continue to work their way together through these most challenging of times.