The Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) publishes a quarterly report highlighting insights from their caseload and broader work program. In the forthcoming issue of Reflect – EWOV identifies key casework insights:
  • EWOV received 4,442 cases in the Jan-Mar quarter 2024, down 5% from 4,666 cases in the Oct-Dec quarter 2023
  • However, EWOV’s caseload was up 31% compared with the same quarter last year – EWOV received 3381 cases in the Jan-Mar quarter 2023.

Beyond the cases highlighted in the forthcoming Reflect newsletter, EWOV has recorded an increase in water related complaints in the most recent quarter:

  • Cases about water were up 18% this quarter (382 cases) compared to last quarter (324 cases), and were up 21% compared with the January-March quarter last year (316).
  • In the Jan-March quarter (382) EWOV received the highest total of water cases since July-September 2021 (421). February had the highest monthly total (142 cases) since March 2021 (147).

Complaints about high water bills and leaks were the primary drivers of EWOV’s caseload.  EWOV received 40 general high bill cases in the latest quarter and 38 high bill cases relating to a reported leak.

The increase in overall cases and prominence of billing complaints suggest broader affordability challenges.

Key work program changes at EWOV:

  • EWOV’s new case handling model, coined “Project Camino” has been in pilot since February 2024. The new model shifts EWOV’s focus from Conciliation to a Fair and Reasonable decision model, seeking to ensure faster handling of complaints, increased transparency and to deliver better outcomes for both consumers and scheme participants. The pilot concluded on 30 April, and EWOV will be reviewing the results and communicate the outcome and relevant next steps with all stakeholders.
  • EWOV has proposed amendments to its Charter; seeking to expanding EWOV’s jurisdiction to include complaints relating to voluntary land access; to increase EWOV’s monetary value cap for binding decisions consistently with other modern ombudsman schemes including the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and to ensure it is consistent with the Australian Consumer Law; and to explicitly refer to EWOV’s role as a recognised external dispute resolution scheme for complaints relating to privacy, credit reporting and consumer data rules. Engagement in relation to these proposed changes is ongoing.
  • In March, EWOV welcomed a new Assistant Ombudsman, Dispute Resolution – Wendy Guy. Wendy brings a deep commitment to the role of EDR in supporting individual redress and wider improvements to consumer outcomes. Wendy was most recently the Assistant Ombudsman, Dispute resolution at the TIO, where she also led policy and systemic issues, and previously worked at the corporate regulator ASIC and as a senior legal professional in commercial litigation.
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