Understanding bills using Easy English documents
Simplifying energy with Accessible Information
Not many people can say they fully understand their gas and electricity bills. For many, it’s a matter of quickly scanning the page to find how much they need to pay, paying the bill, and moving on.
Who knows if you are getting the best deal?
44% of Australians aged 15 to 74 years do not have the functional literacy skills to meet everyday demands (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). This means that documents like gas and electricity bills ̶ with their conditions, calculations, comparisons and costs ̶ get tossed aside. And with that goes an understanding of rights, choices and control.
The Victorian Government, Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC) and Scope are helping to change this.
In 2014, Scope’s Accessible Information service was successful in obtaining a grant to translate 6 CUAC documents into ‘Easy English’. The documents had originally been written to explain energy, smart meters, retailer choice and flexible pricing to disadvantaged Victorian consumers.
Easy English is a style of writing that is easy for everyone to read, including people with a disability, people with reading difficulties and people who have English as a second language.
Easy English uses images accompanied with simple and concise language that focuses on presenting the key information, rather than the detail.
Before the development of the Easy English documents, Scope surveyed approximately 300 individuals living in Scope supported accommodation residences. 74% of these surveyed individuals with a disability did not understand their electricity and gas bills.
Scope provided direct training to a group of individuals living in Scope supported accommodation services and found that after reading these Easy English documents, people could potentially save between $500.00 – $1,200.00 on their energy bills – per year.
After reading the Easy English documents, 42% of these people with a disability reported that they now understood their electricity and gas bills.
The Easy English documents that are currently available to help you save money are:
- Understanding energy: All about your electricity and gas
- Flexible electricity pricing
- Smart meters, energy web portals & in-home displays: Ways to save electricity
- Save energy and save money
These Easy English documents are also available in various community languages including Arabic, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Mandarin, Spanish and Vietnamese.