Enhancing access and support for water customers with cognitive disabilities

Developing resources for Victorian water retailers.

Water is an essential service. All customers need to understand how the water services they use are provided, regulated and priced, but water businesses’ current processes may not serve the needs of every customer. For example,

  • bills may not be clear and easy to understand;
  • when customers have a problem, it may be difficult to work out who to contact; and
  • communication over the phone or by email might not be possible or preferable for everyone.

In this project, commissioned by the Essential Services Commission, University of Melbourne researchers developed practical resources to assist water retailers to enhance access to services and support for customers with cognitive disabilities.

These include:

  • a 14-page guide for retailers to make their processes and communications more accessible, and improve the support and assistance available to customers; and
  • two sample Easy English documents which demonstrate the kinds of documents that can enhance accessibility for a range of customers, including some people with cognitive disabilities.

The resources are based on research conducted with people with cognitive disabilities and their representative organisations, including prior research in the essential services and telecommunications sectors. Francesca Lee (Brain Injury Matters) provided expert advice on the content of the guide for retailers. The two sample Easy English documents were produced by Scope and tested with consumers.

Links to the guide for retailers and sample Easy English documents are available below. For more information about this project contact social-equity@unimelb.edu.au.


Yvette Maker [Melbourne Social Equity Institute]

Bernadette McSherry [Melbourne Social Equity Institute]

Jeannie Paterson [Melbourne Law School]

Lisa Brophy [Melbourne School of Population and Global Health]

Anna Arstein-Kerslake [Melbourne Law School]


Report Cover

Enhancing Access and Support for Water Customers with Cognitive Disabilities

A 14-page guide for water retailers.

Download: Download the Guide (PDF)

Download: Download the Guide (Accessible Word)

Sample Easy English Resources

A sample summary customer charter and bill explainer in Easy English format.  These documents provide general guidance on the nature and content of Easy English documents. The images, Easy English symbol and Scope logo cannot be used without permission and the content cannot be directly reproduced as it is subject to copyright.

Download: Download the Summary Customer Charter (Accessible PDF)

Download: Download the Summary Bill Explainer (Accessible PDF)