Households facing problems with energy or who have disputes about credit and other financial products are being encouraged to come to a “one-stop shop” for help at Dubbo on Thursday.
The Bring Your Bills Day will provide free advice and support for all residents, farmers and small business operators affected, directly or indirectly, by drought, low incomes or other factors.
Ombudsman services have partnered to hold the community expos.
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW Janine Young was pleased to be working with other ombudsman offices to bring key services to rural areas, meet with customers face-to-face and resolve problems on the spot.
“Energy affordability is often linked to other issues, so there is a real benefit in providing access to the tailored support offered by different ombudsman offices and other services in one location,” Ms Young said.
The event will be held at Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre on Thursday from 9am to 3pm.
Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) chief ombudsman and chief executive Officer David Locke welcomed the opportunity to support regional communities.
“AFCA recognises the real challenges that drought-affected communities face,” he said.
“Many of these are financial.
“We will provide solutions for disputes about credit, loans and finance, insurance and a range of other financial products and services.
“AFCA also offers dedicated support for small businesses and can assist farmers with complaints that have cropped up because of drought or other issues.”
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones is pleased to look at what her office can do to help relieve the pressure on communities that are doing it particularly tough.
“We understand phone and internet problems can create added stress during what is already a difficult time, and it can be essential to remain connected,” she said.
“As a free and independent service, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman may be able help find a way forward with these issues.”
A range of other organisations including NSW Fair Trading, Revenue NSW, the Seniors Rights Service, AGL, Origin Energy, local councils, financial counsellors and Energy Account Payment Assistance providers will also be on hand to provide advice and assistance.
“We find that meeting with customers face-to-face makes a big difference to everyone involved and often leads to problems being resolved much quicker than they would otherwise be,” Ms Young said.