People: Contributing to thriving communities
We exist to provide exemplary water and sanitation services for people. Customers and the community are at the core of everything we do.
We work with communities and stakeholders to increase the social value we deliver. Beyond our core business of delivering essential services around the clock, we work to maximise our contribution to public health and wellbeing, with a focus on delivering a fair go for everyone, healthier life choices and great places for people.
Encouraging people to Choose Tap
Our Choose Tap program encourages people to select tap water over bottled drinks, for the sake of their health and the environment. We provide free water refill stations in parks and public spaces, spreading a message about the health, environmental and hip-pocket benefits of drinking water. A phone app helps you locate refill stations, and we can often be found at sporting events.
Implementing our Reconciliation Action Plan
Our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) outlines the approach that we are taking to strengthen how we engage and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and Traditional Owner groups. It is the cornerstone of our organisation’s commitment to make a meaningful contribution to reconciliation and to increase the participation and inclusion of Aboriginal people within the water sector in Victoria.
Assisting customers experiencing hardship and vulnerability
Our hardship policy ensures that all customers, regardless of their circumstances will face no judgement, and will be treated with understanding, dignity and respect with a focus on customers who may be vulnerable to financial difficulties.
We have industry-leading programs to support customers experiencing vulnerability, in collaboration with our community partners. One of the ways that we provide this support is through WaterCare, an initiative promoting the programs, pathways and services that help customers manage their water and sewerage bills.
Collaborating on the Thriving Communities partnership
The Thriving Communities Partnership (TCP) is a cross-sector collaboration with the goal that everybody has fair access to the modern essential services they need to thrive in contemporary Australia. Participants include utilities, financial services, telecommunications and transport. The Thriving Communities Partnership aims to build more resilient community and stronger businesses.
Assisting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities
More than a quarter of our customers are born overseas. As well as language differences, there are many cultural differences that can impact water use. We have over 10 multilingual consultants in our Customer Contact Centre, and every year they handle over 10,000 calls in Mandarin, Arabic, Greek and Cantonese.
Our online self-service platform is also delivered in these four languages, and our WaterCare platform includes support information in 20 languages. We surveyed customers who use these services and 99% of them said that our language other than English (LOTE) service is better than any other similar service they use.
Supporting customers and staff experiencing family violence
We support customers and staff experiencing family violence. It makes sense for utilities to take action on this issue. Perpetrators may leverage the customer account relationship to dominate their victim – for example, by withholding payments, forcing them into debt or attempting to track them down.
Along with other water utilities and family violence experts, we:
- collaborated with the Essential Services Commission to develop changes to the customer service code
- introduced family violence guidelines in line with the findings of the Royal Commission into Family Violence
- improved our internal customer support systems to include a ‘safety flag’ to identify and provide greater safety assistance to people at risk of family violence
- set up mandatory family violence training for staff to help them understand the impacts of family violence.
We continue to work closely with community agencies and financial counselling partners to develop appropriate support for customers and staff members experiencing family violence.
In Melbourne, we have access to high-quality water and sanitation services, but others around the world are not so fortunate. As an industry leader, Yarra Valley Water has a responsibility to help enhance and expand access to safe water and sanitation services in developing countries.
Our employees actively support WaterAid, a charity that transforms the lives of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Visit the WaterAid website.
We are also involved in mentoring programs in Vietnam and Sri Lanka run by WaterLinks - an organisation that builds partnerships, capacity and knowledge between organisations in Asia.