Partnership boosts financial support for North Queenslanders

North Queenslanders are a step closer to accessing critical financial support, with seven successful scholarship applicants commencing their training to become qualified financial counsellors.

Seven fully paid scholarships have been made available as part of a new partnership agreement between Ergon Energy Retail, as part of Energy Queensland, Powerlink Queensland and ICAN Learn.

The $80,000 partnership offers fully paid financial counselling scholarships over a two-year period to be delivered by Cairns-based registered training organisation, ICAN Learn.

ICAN Learn Managing Director, Aaron Davis, said the seven successful applicants from Cooktown and Weipa, down to Bowen and west to Mt Isa, start face to face training in Cairns today.

“We’re pleased to see this regional response to the ongoing financial impacts of COVID-19 officially launching,” Mr Davis said.

“For many communities and households around the state, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for a long time to come.

“Through the use of video conferencing technology, we’re hoping to reach communities that have limited access to these services.”

Energy Queensland CEO Rod Duke said it was important to support the community services sector, as they’re on the frontline assisting Queensland households.

“We are committed to improving energy literacy for our customers across regional Queensland, which is why we are excited to support ICAN Learn in building the financial counselling capacity through our scholarship program,” Mr Duke said.

“Our aim is to ensure that even our most remote customers have access to the information and services they need.”

Powerlink Chief Executive Paul Simshauser said representatives from Ergon Energy Retail, Powerlink, ICAN Learn and Financial Counsellors’ Association of Queensland had completed a comprehensive selection process to cover key areas in need.

“As a result, this program will deliver fully qualified financial counsellors to regional areas across remote North Queensland who have never had access to these services previously,” Mr Simshauser said.

“We’re hearing from consumer advocates that families in regional areas in particular are struggling with pandemic impacts and need support. 

“We’re very pleased to be able to support a program that will see that happen and deliver on our commitments as part of The Energy Charter.” The program commenced in August 2020 delivering energy literacy and efficiency learning webinars to help community organisations better help customers struggling to navigate electricity costs.