After a request for emergency assistance was received through the Vinnies call centre, a visit from Vinnies volunteers found Audrey sitting in the dark with her power disconnected.
Audrey is physically incapacitated, has ongoing health issues, and is home-bound as she cannot drive or take public transport. Vinnies volunteers provide practical assistance through home visitations and during their visit, she advised them that she relied regularly on the goodwill of neighbours for food as she had no power to run a fridge or charging her phone. In the past when she found that her Centrelink payments did not provide enough income, she had taken in boarders who had left owing money for rent.
Her power had been disconnected due to not being able to pay the energy bill, now totalling over $3000, and said the high cost had been caused by the power usage from the boarders prior to leaving. Vinnies financial counsellors provide free, independent financial support and advocacy for people struggling financially. Audrey was contacted by a Vinnies financial counsellor and was able to do a phone interview as her disabilities prevented her from attending an appointment. The financial counsellor was able to work with Audrey over the phone to assess her situation and deal with the immediate crisis of getting her power reconnected.
The energy provider was contacted by the Vinnies financial counsellor to secure a plan that would be the best possible outcome for Audrey to manage. The energy provider agreed to an immediate debt waiver of $1000 towards the outstanding bill with Audrey given a repayment plan over a 12 month period. They also agreed to review the account after a year and if Audrey can continue to maintain her payments, any remaining debt will be waived. Audrey was incredibly happy when her power was reconnected that same day through the intervention of Vinnies. She was immensely grateful of the outcome, expressing to Vinnies that words couldn't describe the joy and relief this makes to her managing her daily tasks. Now with her fridge and other appliances working again, Audrey was able to begin to store and cook food, a significant factor in restoring Audrey's independence and confidence to continue managing on her own.