Access to water is an indispensable human right. All Victorians have the right to enjoy access to safe, reliable water supplies, so that they are able live healthy and dignified lives.
Fundamental to exercising this right is that water services remain affordable for everyone, including people on low and fixed incomes, as well as other consumers
Overall, we broadly support the proposed Directions contained in the draft Strategy, noting that the Strategy makes repeated mention of the need to keep water bills affordable even while taking action to ensure the security of water supply into the future.
For the Victorians we speak to through our financial counselling services, their concerns
are often about immediate affordability of utility bills. Compared to energy bills, we receive a significantly lower volume of calls from people reporting difficulty paying their water bills. However, we note the Essential Service Commission’s reporting which shows that the number of water customers in hardship programs has grown since
the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any increases in water prices will exacerbate financial hardship for people on low or fixed incomes, increasing the challenge they face in meeting the cost of their day-to-day expenses.
Ensuring that water bills remain affordable is central to ensuring that all Victorians can continue to exercise their right to water, while acting to strengthen the sustainability of our water resources into the future.
Read our full submission (PDF).