MEFL has partnered with the Queensland Council of Social Services (QCOSS) and Multicultural Development Association (MDA) to deliver Bright Actions, a Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP) project designed to improve the lives of people from a refugee background. The project is based around increased knowledge of energy efficiency practices and improved understanding of the financial options and impacts of the energy and appliance choices people make.
MEFL initially worked with QCOSS and MDA on the program design and grant application. After the program received funding MEFL has worked on the recruitment and training of staff, data collection and analysis, reporting and program review as well as sitting on the steering committee.
The project seeks to assist people from a refugee background to understand energy efficiencyand provide opportunities to households to adopt energy efficiency technologies and behaviours along their settlement journey.
Bright Actions is working in close collaboration with MDA staff, leaders of refugee communities and refugee community members to deliver information sessions, practical workshops, home energy assessments, and access to a bulk buy scheme for energy efficient appliances. The Project targets people from a refugee background residing in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Rockhampton and Biloela.
The success of the program can be measured in the interaction with the refugee community and the spread of knowledge within the community but it has had far greater outcomes with both MDA and QCOSS making changes to the waythey run their businesses based on the feedback from the Bright Actions workers on the issues they have discovered in the community. The program is the first program to specifically target the refugee community and to gather energy efficiency and attitudinal information from the sector. The interim results have been surprising and enlightening and will allow the partner organisations and other relevant organisations to modify their projects in order to more effectively meet the needs of the community.
“Word of mouth” works!
Almost 80% of the people we work with are sharing the lessons from the program with their wider community. This word of mouthtransfer of information within a community has proven to be the best method of learning in most communities. There has also been a 30% increase in participants’ confidence levels around making energy related decisions resulting in many people making much better decisions around energy use and appliance purchase. One of the biggest findings in the project is that 88% of people modified their behaviour as a result of working with the project workers. This is a great result for everyone involved.
The next stage of the project will continue to work with households as well as helping people to access the “No Interest Loan Scheme” which will enable them to purchase better appliances and decrease the trajectory of their energy use.
The project is funded under the Commonwealth Government’s Low Income Energy Efficiency Program in order to trial approaches that reduce or remove the barriers for low-income households to be more energy efficient. The trial will run until June 2016.