Melbourne Model Pilot
Utility Debt Spiral Project

1 Jan 2003  –  1 Jan 2007


Conducted between 2003-2007, the Utility Debt Spiral project worked to explore and address the relationship between the impact of utility bills and broader social issues. The ‘Melbourne Model‘ of cross-sectoral collaboration in tackling complex urban problems was developed from this successful innovative project.

Over 20 organisations were engaged in this project which was led by the Committee for Melbourne and the City of Melbourne. Community groups, NGO’s, utility companies, government departments and statutory bodies worked together to explore and develop innovative solutions to this intractable issue. Corporate participants included Origin Energy, CitiPower and Powercor, TXU, City West Water, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water.

This project focused on financial hardship and gained tremendous state and federal government support in changing legislation which introduced payment options for people who were struggling to meet their utility bills.

The Project sought to address:

  1. Poverty, hardship and utilities-related financial stress in Melbourne;
  2. Federal and State regulatory frameworks around the provision of utilities; and
  3. Addressing the specific question of: ‘Customers experiencing financial hardship, either temporary or chronic: How should energy and water providers, governments and regulators best respond?’


  • Reduce utility hardship for the financially disadvantaged

  • To produce a ‘best practice’ model

  • Encourage cross-sector partnership

  • Encourage businesses to engage the Global Compact


Private Sector


  1. The facilitation of experts from key water, gas and electricity companies cooperate, some for the first time, with experts from social service agencies, regulatory bodies and government agencies; and
  2. Make recommendations to both the Federal and State government on a ‘best practice model’


Cover Committee For Melbourne_Utility debt spiral project 2004 reportSee the final report from the Committee for Melbourne, Utility Debt Spiral project 2004 report.