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Partnership brings financial relief, cuts emissions for first community housing tenants

21 March 2024

Great Southern Bank has completed the first phase of a community partnership with Mission Australia aimed at cutting utility bills and reducing emissions for hundreds of Australians living in community housing.

Through the partnership, the bank paid for energy and water efficient upgrades including heat pump hot water systems, LED lighting, water efficient taps and water tanks at a 41-unit complex in Forster, New South Wales.

Mission Australia expects these upgrades to reduce energy consumption by 30%, resulting in potential savings of up to $500 annually on utility bills per household.

Megan Keleher, Chief Customer Officer at Great Southern Bank, said she believes the $1m partnership can create a meaningful impact on the lives of hundreds of tenants living in community housing.

“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,” she said.

Naomi Donohoe, Regional Housing Manager for Mission Australia said the upgrades will provide relief for tenants.

“Forster was our priority as the building is more than 40 years old and one of the least energy efficient in our 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,” she said.

Andre, a hospitality worker, has lived in Forster for more than ten years and is one of the first to benefit from the energy improvements.

“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,” he said.

Janenne works locally at a school and she’s already envisioning how she’ll allocate the savings from her expected lower utility bills.

“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,” she said.