In Horizon Power's service area of regional and remote Western Australia, approximately 25 per cent of the population is Aboriginal. In many of the remote communities serviced by Horizon Power, such as Yungngora and Kalumburu, nearly all residents are Aboriginal people.
Horizon Power is committed to engaging with our Aboriginal customers in a respectful way and ensuring Aboriginal communities are fully informed about any work taking place.
In 2011, the Board and Executive of Horizon Power committed to an Aboriginal Employment and Engagement Strategy.
Horizon Power is determined that our workforce become more representative of our customer base and, as a result, that we are better positioned to deliver culturally appropriate, targeted and cost-effective services.
We are committed to ensuring that 20 per cent of our workforce is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent by 2015/16.
The Aboriginal Employment and Engagement Strategy provides an underpinning framework to help increase the participation of Aboriginal people in Horizon Power employment, training and contracting opportunities.
Horizon Power aspires to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people through upgrading power supplies to remote and town-based Aboriginal communities.
Electricity is an essential service that is critical for the delivery of health care and nutrition in remote communities.
Horizon Power has also introduced 1000 pre-payment meters in Aboriginal communities which allows each household to budget and pay immediately for the electricity they consume, rather than receiving a two-monthly bill.
Pre-payment meters which include smart technology, for example allowing meters to be connected, disconnected or read remotely, are also being investigated.
The electricity service improvement projects we undertake involve a culturally sensitive and respectful approach to planning and forecasting energy needs. Where possible, employment, training, education and business opportunities for local people are provided to capture social and economic benefits within communities.
Horizon Power currently employs seven Remote Community Utility Workers who are Aboriginal people from communities being trained to maintain the electrical network and power stations in communities.
Education is provided on a range of topics including electrical safety and energy efficiency.
Horizon Power acknowledges that Aboriginal people form a large and integral part of our customer base. Many communities are directly impacted by power supply projects with a number of projects located on or near land where traditional Aboriginal groups claim rights and interests.
Aboriginal heritage and native title are key considerations within any project and form part of the Horizon Power commitment to Aboriginal engagement.
Horizon Power is required to comply with Commonwealth and State heritage and native title law. In addition many sites must comply with by-laws and permits with specific heritage conditions.
Horizon Power has developed and registered a Reconciliation Action Plan through Reconciliation Australia.
A Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is a tool to help Horizon Power build positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. RAPs are a public contribution towards the national effort to close the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The RAP formalises Horizon Power's contribution by identifying clear actions and realistic targets, as well as lessons learnt.
The RAP actions and targets align to Horizon Power's corporate objectives and a recently completed annual review of the RAP demonstrated successful completion of some key actions.
Horizon Power's RAP has now been refreshed with a key focus on developing the Aboriginal Employment and Engagement Strategy (AEES).
Horizon Power's RAP has been developed in collaboration with representation from executive members, managers and staff from across the organisation, Indigenous staff and external Indigenous stakeholders.