Supporting Tasmanians in need this winter Sun 1 January 2012 Lara Giddings Premier Cassy O'Connor, MP Minister for Human Services Download hi-res version Download hi-res version A scheme to help Tasmanians on low income purchase energy efficient heat pumps will complement the work of community groups in supporting Tasmanians most in need over winter, the Premier, Lara Giddings, said today. Ms Giddings joined the Minister for Human Services, Cassy O’Connor, at the Eureka Clubhouse in Moonah, where community groups were preparing meals and packing hampers for Tasmanians in need to announce no-interest loans were now available for Tasmanians on a low income to purchase energy-efficient appliances, including heat pumps for winter. “We’re strong supporters of the work of Colony 47, Foodbank and SecondBite in helping to ensure that vulnerable Tasmanians won’t go hungry over winter – and this no interest loans program is another way of giving low income Tasmanians the support they need, when they need it” she said. “These initiatives will go some way towards ensuring that Tasmanian families do not go cold and hungry this winter.” Ms Giddings said funding of $180,000 over two years was provided in the last budget to subsidise the cost of expensive items such as heaters and energy-efficient white goods. “By combining this subsidy with the existing NILS scheme, we are making energy efficient heating available to more low-income households in time for winter,” she said. “We know that rising power prices are having a huge impact on household budgets and installing energy efficient appliances is one of the best ways that people can bring down their energy bills. “The funding announced today will subsidise the purchase price and installation costs of eligible products by 30 per cent. “The NILS loan limit has also been extended from $1200 to $2520 to cover the cost of these more expensive appliances. “By providing this funding we hope that more Tasmanians will be able to stay warm this winter, while keeping their energy costs as low as possible.” The Minister for Human Services, Cassy O’Connor, said the NILS scheme and food relief over the winter months would complement a range of support measures in place to help Tasmanians who are doing it tough. The sale of TOTE Tasmania has allowed the State Government to set aside $5 million to fund cost of living initiatives, which will be revealed in the State Budget. “Many Tasmanians take it for granted that they’ll be able to put food on their tables,” Ms O’Connor said. “But for some, it can come down to a choice between feeding their families or paying the power bill. “We know cost of living pressures are a tremendous burden on Tasmanians who are doing it tough, and these are simple, effective ways that we can help ease that strain. “The Foodbank project works with over 50 community organisations around the state to give hundreds of Tasmanians the ability to provide food for their families and we are proud supporters of this program. “Over the past three years we have invested $3 million in emergency relief funding, which includes the $60,000 statewide winter relief partnership with Foodbank and Neighbourhood Houses for 4,000 emergency food boxes to be delivered to Tasmanians in need. “We are also making a significant investment in energy efficiency measures for Tasmanians on low incomes – measures that are helping tenants cut not only their power use but also their power bills." The Premier said the Government is also providing an emergency relief payment of $750,000 to welfare organisations in June this year so that funding is available for the peak winter period, while the commitment to emergency relief has also included $180,000 over two years to SecondBite to support its work in the South of the State and to expand its operations into the North of the State. People with a healthcare or pension concession card are eligible to apply for NILS loans. Repayments are managed through Centrelink’s Centrepay facility, with fortnightly loan repayments deducted directly from Centrelink’s income support payments.