HOUSEHOLDS IN THE DARK II

Mapping electricity disconnections in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and South East Queensland

The focus of the research presented in the Households in the Dark II has been to geo-spatially analyse where electricity disconnections occur as well as explore when and why they occur based on the socio- economic indicators that characterise these areas.
This project, by Alviss Consulting and the St Vincent de Paul Society, has analysed and mapped approximately 395,000 electricity disconnections raised for non-payment in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and South East Queensland between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2018.
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Key findings

  • While electricity disconnections occur in most postcodes, there are significant differences in the frequencies of disconnections between postcodes. Furthermore, there are significant inter- state differences in terms of the geographical locations and socio-economic characteristics of postcodes that have high disconnection numbers.
  • When looking at raw counts of raised disconnections, Victorian and New South Wales postcodes with high disconnection numbers are predominantly located in regional areas, whereas in South Australia, it is mostly middle suburbs. In South East Queensland, postcodes with high numbers of raised disconnections are largely located in fast-growing outer suburbs (FGOS).
  • When disconnections are normalised for population, there is a shift towards rural postcodes having a disproportionately higher number of disconnections compared to other geographical areas, especially in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
    • Postcodes in South Australia that are at the greater risk of being disconnected are predominantly located in rural areas and are either (i) more elderly and low-income communities or (ii) communities with high disconnection numbers that are not typically associated with a high level of disadvantage.
    • In Victoria, the largest group at risk are those with high disadvantage predominantly located in regional areas but in middle suburbs, outer suburbs and rural areas as well. The other key groups identified that are also at risk in Victoria, include (i) communities with an elderly population and low incomes in rural and regional areas, (ii) postcodes with high levels of housing affordability issues in rural areas and FGOS, and (iii) FGOS and middle suburbs with high proportions of one parent families.
    • Postcodes in New South Wales that are at the greatest risk of being disconnected are less diverse than in Victoria. They are predominantly postcodes with high disadvantage (that is, characterised by (i) low income, (ii) high unemployment, (iii) some degree of housing affordability issues, and (iv) some high proportions of one parent families located in rural and regional areas.
    • Postcodes in South East Queensland that are at the greatest risk of being disconnected are largely inner-city postcodes facing housing affordability issues. Other key groups also include FGOS postcodes characterised by either entrenched disadvantage or a high proportion of one parent families.
  • In Victoria, there appears to be a strong link between the roll out of smart meters (which enable disconnections to be done remotely) and increases in disconnection completion rates, and thus, also an increase in households being disconnected multiple times over a three-year period

Interactive map story

Acknowledgement

This project was funded by Energy Consumers Australia (www.energyconsumersaustralia.com. au) as part of its grants process for consumer advocacy projects and research projects for the benefit of consumers of electricity and natural gas.

Disclaimer

While we have taken great care to ensure accuracy of the information in this report, we do not accept any legal responsibility for errors or inaccuracies. Alviss Consulting Pty does not accept liability for any action taken based on the information provided in this report or for any loss, economic or otherwise, suffered as a result of reliance on the information presented.