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Consumer Advocacy and Research Fund (CARF)

SACOSS are funded under the Consumer Advocacy and Research Fund (CARF) to support the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) in the administration of the CARF and to ensure that the breadth of South Australian water consumers specified within Section 87(5)a of the Water Industry Act 2012 are effectively represented in water regulatory determinations, policy making and research and advocacy project development.

SACOSS are available to assist community groups to develop proposals and applications for funding under the Consumer Advocacy and Research Fund (CARF). Funded projects can support: 

  • research or advocacy that promotes the interests of consumers with a disability, low-income consumers, or consumers who are located within a regional area of the State; and 
  • projects that advance the interests of consumers from an advocacy perspective. 

Please contact us if you or your organisation have a proposal or idea for funding under the CARF. 

For further information, please visit: https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/get-involved/grants-and-funding/consum...

The following projects have been funded previously funded by the CARF.
Engagement with and responses to SA Water Regulatory Determination Process 2024 - 28  (Uniting Communities)
This project to engage in the SA Water Regulatory Process for 2024 – 28. The first deliverable is a written Consumer Priorities statement to SA Water during their development of the regulated business plan.
Understanding Water Use and Needs of Older People in Regional South Australia (Council on the Ageing South Australia)
Currently underway


Implementation of Revised Water Industry Act (2012) – tenants as water customers (Uniting Communities)

This project aimed to change legislation (Water Industry Act and Residential Tenancies Act) to improve tenants’ access to hardship assistance, dispute resolution,and enhance overall transparency in the water industry. Developed through extensive consultation with government and industry stakeholders, the Issues Paper and Recommendations Report provide a comprehensive picture of legislative issues, vulnerable tenants’ experiences, and diverse solutions to shape the future of equitable water billing in SA.

Water Management Workshops (Aboriginal Lands Trust)
This project aims to investigate water management issues impacting Communities on Trust Land. The Umoona Aboriginal Community in Coober Pedy has been the focus for the ongoing project given the unique and complex water supply and management arrangements for the Community.
SA Water Revenue Determination Project (Business SA)
The purpose of this project was to investigate SA Water’s 2020-24 Regulatory Proposal to ensure all aspects of operating and capital expenditure are justified against best practice interstate and accurately reflect SA consumer preferences. Further, that all potential revenue reductions from externalities, for example reducing cost of debt, are made clear and can be specially separated from any revenue reductions associated with Government imposed reductions in SA Water’s Regulated Asset Base (RAB). As part of the project, Business SA produced a submission to SA Water's Draft Regulatory Business Proposal and a submission to ESCOSA's Draft SA Water Regulatory Determination 2020, including an independent report produced by Isle Utilities Ltd.
SA Water Revenue Determination Project: Pricing and Tariff Structures for Water (Uniting Communities)

The objective of this project was to determine recommendations for improved pricing and tariff structures for SA Water as part of the SA Water Regulatory Determination 2020. The intended outcome is to ensure robust policy mechanisms exist which provide for the needs of the diverse range of water consumers in South Australia. As part of the project, Uniting Communities produced a submission to SA Water's Draft Regulatory Business Proposal and a submission to ESCOSA's Draft SA Water Regulatory Determination 2020.

SA Water Revenue Determination Project: Analysis of Competing Supply Options (Conservation Council SA)

The objective of this project was to investigate SA Water’s proposed expenditure on water supply options contained in SA Water’s Draft Business Proposal and ESCOSA’s SA Water Draft Regulatory Determination. As part of the project, Conservation Council SA produced a submission to SA Water's Draft Regulatory Business Proposal, including an independent report on Alternative Water for Greening in Adelaide.

SA Water Revenue Determination Project and Related Advocacy (Uniting Communities)

Advocacy work with the objective of providing a consumer perspective on SA Water’s proposed expenditure over 2020-24 within the Essential Services Commission of South Australia’s SA Water Regulatory Determination 2020. The following outputs were produced as part of this project:

Independent State Water Pricing Inquiry (Business SA)

This project provided a consumer perspective on the Independent State Water Price Inquiry. Business SA produced two submissions to the Independent State Water Price Inquiry as an output of the project: 
  • Response to the "Cautious Conclusion" report
  • Response to the "A Balanced Bargain" report​

High Water Needs of Consumers Living with Disability and Their Families in South Australia (JFA Purple Orange)

JFA Purple Orange led a State-wide project to research and document the particular conditions for people living with disability which necessitate high use of water in South Australia. One-on-one interviews provided insight into living with disability, what water was used on, how high use of water impacts on their lives, how families go about managing their water needs and identified what would be most helpful to them in assisting with high water needs. The following report was produced as an output from the report. This project was a follow-up to a 2016/17 CARF funded project.
Supporting Regional Customers in Financial Difficulty Project (Kerri Muller and Jeannette Gellard)*
The project aimed to provide minor and intermediate retailers with improved service options for customers in financial difficulty to build the capacity of these retailers to further assist regional customers. A Financial Hardship Toolkit was developed following workshops and interviews with financial counsellors and Council staff to better support customers experiencing financial difficulties. The toolkit includes resources such as draft policy templates, a hardship assessment tool, payment arrangement calculator, and referral lists.  Further information is detailed in the final report
*Note: this project was funded over 2 years (2017-18 / 2018/19)
Financial Counseling Services Guarantee for SA Water Customers Project (SAFCA)
The South Australian Financial Counsellors Association (SAFCA) developed a proposal for a priority service arrangement that will enable SA Water customers to access fast-track financial counselling assistance. Under the model, it is recommended that customers across the state are able to benefit from face-to-face assistance, with a guaranteed appointment within two weeks. The following report was produced as an output of the project. 
Multicultural South Australian Water Consumer Project (Colmar Brunton)
Colmar Brunton conducted 40 in-depth interviews with water consumers from across metropolitan and regional South Australian to document the particular issues arising for SA consumers from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, in respect to the use, cost, quality and access to water in order to better understand, support and service their needs. The following report was produced as an output of the project. 
Achieving Water Security for Sustainable Farming Families and Communities Project (UniSA)
Researchers from UniSA undertook research to improve the sustainability of SA’s farming families by delivering better policies and enhanced equity of water sharing from rural farm dams through the development of a Water Equity Typology (WET) model for SA. The following report was produced as an output of the project. 

Sponsorship of the SACOSS hardship and affordability conference

The theme of the 2018 SACOSS conference was Essential Services and Consumers Living with Disability: Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Transport.

Minor and Intermediate Retailers Research and Advocacy Project (SAFCA)
The South Australian Financial Counsellors Association (SAFCA) undertook a research project that surveyed 200 residential home owners who receive one or both services, to understand their levels of customer satisfaction. The following report was produced as an output of the project.
Water Consumers with a Disability Research Project (JFA Purple Orange)
JFA Purple Orange conducted face-to-face interviews and an online survey of 129 South Australian residential water customers living with a disability (or have a family member living with a disability) to understand issues faced in terms of use of water, cost and quality of access to water. The following report was produced as an output of the project.
Tenants and Water Charges Project (Uniting Communities)
Uniting Communities produced a report analysing the state of the water industry and the particular impacts current leglislation and practices have on tenants.
Enhancing Consumer Sector Engagement in SA Water Regulatory Determination Project (SACOSS)
The purpose of this project was to support advocacy work to enhance consumer sector engagement with SA Water's proposed expenditure over 2016-20 as part of ESCOSA's SA Water Regulatory Determination process 2016-20. Activities and outputs from the project included a review and gaps analysis of consumer submissions on SA Water's Regulatory Business Proposal 2016-20, engagement with consumer organisations to identify emerging issues, technical advice from Beca Party Ltd and the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies on the emerging issues, and a joint COTA SA, SAFCA and Consumers SA submission on ESCOSA’s Draft Determination of SA Water’s Regulatory Business Proposal 2016 – 2020.
SA Water Price Determination and Vulnerable Water Customers (SACOSS)
The purpose of this project was to ensure technical and practical representation of consumers on the economic and engineering aspects of SA Water's Price Determination for 2016-20. Outputs for the project included a briefing paper to benchmark SA Water performance and identify key consumer pricing issues for vulnerable consumers, co-ordination of meetings with consumer advocates, and a submission to ESCOSA on SA Water's Regulatory Business Proposal 2016-20 and independent advice on SA Water Cost of Debt and Employment Cost proposals
The theme of the 2015 SACOSS conference was collaborative approaches to supporting hardship in Energy, Water and Telecommunications.
Water Advocacy Research Project (KPMG)
The Water Advocacy Research Project aimed to build the capacity of consumer advocates to assist vulnerable water consumers deal with retailers, and engage in regulatory processes. It delivered the following report and Advocacy Guidelines for consumer advocates and agencies.
Best Practice Consumer Interaction Project (KPMG)
The Best Practice Consumer Interaction Project aimed to support retailers to better engage with vulnerable consumers. It delivered Consumer Interaction Guidelines for use by water retailers.
Sponsorship of the SACOSS Hardship and Affordability Conference
The theme of the 2014 conference was Stakeholder Conversations.