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Toolkit launched to empower culturally and linguistically diverse energy consumers

Joseph Guenzler -

Professor Ross Gordon, Dr. Foluké Badejo, and researcher Dr. Theresa Harada from the Queensland University of Technology's School of Advertising, Marketing, and PR have unveiled a new digital toolkit, aiming to empower culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians in becoming informed energy consumers.

The project, funded by Energy Consumers Australia, received praise from Professor Ross Gordon.

As the foremost energy consumer advocacy organisation in the country, Energy Consumers Australia's website offers valuable information and advice for residential and small business energy consumers, according to Professor Gordon, who encourages everyone to explore and utilise their resources.

"Among the great work that they do is to run a regular research grants program which is how we carried out this study," he said.

Professor Gordon said the project featured three stages.

"Stage one was a text analysis of how current narratives produced by Australian energy market stakeholders represent and engage CALD energy consumers," he said.

"The findings from the text analysis demonstrated how existing energy market narratives fail to represent and engage CALD energy consumers.

"Instead, they portray an image of the average Australian energy consumer as a green hero who is rational, male, highly educated and informed, wealthier, from a non-CALD background and who is individually responsible and capable for managing their own energy use sustainability and efficiently to support the clean energy transition."

In stage two, Professor Ross Gordon and the team conducted qualitative interviews and video ethnographies with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) energy consumers.

This phase aimed to explore their daily lived experiences and narratives related to energy consumption.

"The findings demonstrated how the dominant energy market narratives from stage one contrast significantly with the everyday lived experiences of CALD consumers," Professor Gordon said.

"The research found that CALD energy consumers feel unrepresented in energy policy and market narratives."

Dr Badejo identified CALD consumers often reported that they faced difficulties caused by high energy costs and bill shock.

"They also reported lower levels of energy literacy and understanding of energy bills, difficulties comparing market offers," she said.

Dr Harada stated that CALD energy consumers also "… listed further frustrations about how to plan for a sustainable future, and low engagement with environmental responsibility to prioritising their challenges associated with everyday life".

Professor Gordon said for the final stage of the research the team developed a co-design of recommendations for supporting and empowering CALD energy consumers.

"We came up with a set of recommendations, which are communicated in the toolkit, to identify the things that Australian energy market actors must address," he said.

Develop representative energy narratives for CALD consumers.

Foster community engagement and partnerships with CALD populations.

Improve support for accurate and understandable energy billing, consumption monitoring and tracking.

Familiarisation and improved targeting of energy policy and programs with CALD consumers.

Improving the cultural competency of organisations working in the Australian energy market.

Supporting CALD consumers to be energy efficient while maintaining comfort, health and well-being through strategic social marketing behaviour change programs.

The toolkit can be found here.

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