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March, 2024

Great Southern Bank, Mission Australia tackle high utility bills and emissions

Great Southern Bank has completed the first phase of a community partnership with Mission Australia that aimed to reduce utility bills and emissions for Australians living in community housing.

The bank funded energy and water-efficient upgrades at a 41-unit complex in Forster, New South Wales, including heat pump hot water systems, LED lighting, water-efficient taps, and water tanks. Mission Australia expects these upgrades to reduce energy consumption by 30%, potentially saving up to $500 annually on utility bills per household.

This marks the beginning of a three-year partnership with Mission Australia, with the $1m initiative expected to impact hundreds of tenants living in community housing. The Forster building was prioritised as it is over 40 years old and one of the least energy-efficient in Mission Australia’s portfolio. Tenants have reported struggling with high utility bills and are expected to benefit from the upgrades.

Great Southern Bank Chief Customer Officer, Megan Keleher, said: “These energy and water upgrades in Forster are only just the beginning of a three-year partnership with Mission Australia to address today’s challenges of rising electricity costs and climate change. The strength of this partnership lies in combining our commitment to financial inclusion and climate action, with Mission Australia’s expertise and experience as one of the country’s largest community housing providers.”

Mission Australia Regional Housing Manager, Naomi Donohoe, said Forster was the priority as it was one of the least energy efficient in the organisation’s portfolio. “We’ve heard specifically from our tenants that they are struggling with the higher utility bills whilst trying to live comfortably in their homes throughout the year. Partnering with Great Southern Bank on this project will save tenants money and reduce our environmental footprint.”

Tenants have already reported positive experiences with the upgrades. Andre, a hospitality worker and tenant in Forster, said: “These energy-savings upgrades are a win-win for myself and the environment. The new heat pump hot water system means no more waiting for the water to heat up before taking a shower. It’s a significant difference. Makes me feel alive, feel complete, actually.”

Janenne, a school worker and tenant in Forster, said: “It’s going to be great for the electricity bills. I’d love to be able to go on a short trip somewhere with the money I’ll save.”