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Winning Ozwater’19 paper opens up a wider world for SA Water customers

A case study on how SA Water is meeting the needs of customers living with disability has been named the Ozwater’19 Best Paper and Presentation.

Written by SA Water Customer Experience Design and Delivery Lead Dave Woodmore, the paper discusses Project Wider World, an initiative that aims to provide better products and services for customers.

While the utility began with a specific customer group in mind, Woodmore said it became apparent that many of the issues faced by those with disabilities were similar to other groups in vulnerable situations, just with different root causes.

For example, understanding a water bill, contacting a customer care centre, finding information and getting help from a utility can all be unnecessarily difficult tasks.

“We used disability as a focus, which helped us design the best, most robust systems,” Woodmore said.

“Our customers with disabilities are the ones who will primarily benefit, but the knock-on impact is that everybody gets a better service.”

By talking to customers living with disabilities, carers, support workers, SA Water staff and the wider community, the utility identified up to 15 projects to complete.

These range from how it designs and produces water bills to how field service workers operate and the assistance given to help customers pay for their water.

Some of the changes will be rolled out over the next 12 months, while others will begin in 2020 due to the regulatory cycle and others are scheduled for 2024.

“It’s quite a long program … but it makes great business sense because we’re developing things customers actually want,” Woodmore said.

“When you consider 30% of any state’s population live with a disability in some form, that’s a lot of people who can be affected.”

Woodmore said he hopes his case study helps other utilities realise they can also make a difference.

“By making some very simple changes, you can make significant improvements to how your services are used for a very large portion of the population,” he said.

“The feedback I’ve got is that no utility in Australia is doing this at the moment, we’re definitely leading the way.”

Ozwater’19 Best Paper and Presentation winner

Meeting the needs of customers living with disability leads to better services for all – Project ‘Wider World’

Dave Woodmore, SA Water


Second place

A tale of two treatment plants: Lessons in community engagement

Kate Thomas,  Logan Water Infrastructure Alliance, Tamara Weaver, Logan City Council and Tania Keelan, Downer

Read our story on this here.


Equal third

Sunraysia Modernisation Project 2 – Collaborating with customers to build resilience of the Lower Murray Water Rural irrigation business

Andrew Kremor, Lower Murray Urban and Rural Water Corporation


Going real time in water conservation

Sean Cohen, SUEZ


For all our Ozwater'19 coverage, click here.