Thriving Communities Partnership

by Thriving Communities Partnership



The Thriving Communities Partnership 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; this includes utilities, financial services, telecommunications and transport.

We facilitate a platform for partnership where networks are created across government, corporate and community sectors to collaborate on solutions to systemic issues of consumer vulnerability.

Project implemented: October 2016

Project goal

Our goal is to provide fair access to modern day essential services, because everybody has the right to survive and thrive.

delivering on

why is this project important?

Financial stress is on the rise for millions of Australians; In fact, research by NAB shows us that 2.4 million adults experience severe or high financial stress.

Other industry research tells us that:

• Almost 50% of people have sometimes or always struggled to pay a utility bill in the last 12 months.

• 43% regularly pay their bill using some form of credit, including borrowing from family or payday lenders because they don’t have the funds available.

• Vulnerability and hardship is not just an issue for long-term welfare recipients – it affects people from all walks of life.

Right now, millions of Australians are only a lost job, a relationship breakdown or a medical emergency away from falling into serious financial distress.

Key steps to make it happen

1Grow the Movement

We believe in illuminating the issues to influence collective action; because complex problems require systemic solutions.

2Build Capability/Capacity

To drive systems change we need to leverage the diversity of collective intelligence. It’s about getting better together

3Broker Partnerships

We build our network and nurture partnerships with intent so we can effectively respond to social challenges.

4Connect Access to Support

We partner to create a holistic ecosystem for people to access meaningful support in a simplified and dignified way.

Our Charter of Principles:

Developed through co-design, our charter reflects the commitment of participating organisations to cultivate trust with communities. We do this by contributing and implementing policies, practices and initiatives that result in tangible improvement in the lives of people who experience vulnerability and hardship.

Our charter acknowledges that all people may experience vulnerability at some time in their lives, and a whole-of-organisation approach is required to build a more supportive ecosystem. The impact of this commitment to people centred-approaches, will strengthen social, physical and financial wellbeing and resilience, benefiting both people and businesses alike.

Supported Decision Making Project:

Led by Telstra in conjunction with the University of Melbourne and with the participation of water and energy utilities; this project aims to discover needs and develop new approaches to improve support for people with decision making impairments – cognitive or psychosocial (mental health-related) disabilities. The goal of this project is to ensure fair access to services so that people with impaired decision making can fully exercise their rights as consumers.

Utilities Cross Referral Project:

Championed by EnergyAustralia and Yarra Valley Water; this project is piloting a collaboration to cross-refer customers who present to either organisation in financial hardship. This pilot aims to create a respectful and dignified pathway for customers to fully access support products and services. The goal of this pilot is to measure the benefits of cross-referral in view of a scaled approach.

Response to Institutional Child Abuse:

Partners have commenced work towards formulating a response to support people who receive redress as a result of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This response recognises the complexities of people who carry significant debts, are of low financial literacy, are at risk of elder abuse and require ongoing medical treatment as a result of their experiences. The goal of this response is to support the financial needs of people who present through the redress scheme.

Response to Prison Debt:

New research conducted by Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) with people who have spent time in prison, reveals how a person’s financial position can significantly deteriorate while in the prison system.
The problems range from having difficulty contacting creditors in time to stop debts spiralling out of control, to being refused home insurance, to small fines adding up to insurmountable debt, to being unable to disconnect utilities. The research reveals that when people leave prison in a more desperate financial situation, they are more likely to commit further crime in order to pay back debts.
With the goal of preventing the unnecessary accumulation of debts; Partners have now commenced work towards evaluating the existing structures that prevent people from managing their financial obligations while in prison.


According to the Legatum Prosperity Index 2016, while overall global prosperity is growing, Australia’s national prosperity is in decline. Research tells us that both financial and social inequality are growing in Australia, leading to greater vulnerability. Despite an estimated $500 billion being spent annually on health, welfare, education and housing, millions of Australians are still living in, or on the edge of, financial vulnerability or poverty.

As our population grows and economy shifts gears, it’s becoming harder for everyone to experience “a fair go” and achieve a quality of life that allows them and their families to thrive. This matters to all of us on several levels: our health and life expectancy, our social and economic participation, financial resilience and the ability of our businesses to grow and prosper sustainably


Thriving and resilient individuals and families live in inclusive communities and experience well-being and fullness of life.


The Thriving Communities Partnership 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: including utilities, financial services, telecommunications and transport.


The Thriving Communities Partnership is a collaborative network of 150 organisations across corporate, community and government sectors.  Leading this movement are our partner organisations who contribute capital, consulting services and intellectual property to sustain our activities.

Founding Partners:

  • AGL Energy
  • Bond MRM
  • City West Water
  • EnergyAustralia
  • KPMG
  • NAB
  • Optus
  • Origin Energy
  • Queensland Energy
  • SA Water
  • Sparke Helmore Lawyers
  • South East Water
  • Suncorp Group
  • Sydney Water
  • Telstra
  • Transurban
  • Wannon Water
  • Yarra Valley Water

Community & Supporting Partners:

  • Consumer Policy Research Centre
  • Financial Counselling Australia
  • Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
  • Good Shepherd Microfinance
  • Infoxchange
  • Resilient Melbourne
  • Uniting
  • World Vision

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