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Gill Owen Scholarship

The Gill Owen Scholarship supports an individual to travel internationally to research innovative ideas and initiatives that will be relevant to improving outcomes for consumers in the Australian energy market.


Energy Consumers Australia

The Gill Owen Scholarship supports an individual to travel internationally to research innovative ideas and initiatives that will be relevant to improving outcomes for consumers in the Australian energy market.

Who was Gill Owen?

Dr Gill Owen was an inaugural Director of the Energy Consumers Australia Board. Gill Owen was a respected policy advocate, who brought her considerable expertise and insights to energy consumer issues in both Australia and the UK.

Reflecting her international experience, Gill Owen provided a unique perspective on Australian policy and program development, supported by her enduring commitment to social justice and better consumer outcomes. Her contribution saw improvements to the Australian regulatory framework, including in the creation of the Australian Energy Regulator’s Consumer Challenge Panel. She was a guiding voice in the establishment of Energy Consumers Australia, and our early days as an organisation.

Gill Owen passed away in August 2016. To honour Gill Owen’s memory Energy Consumers Australia has created an annual scholarship in her name.

About the Scholarship

Energy Consumers Australia sees great potential value in continuing that exchange of ideas and
experience that Gill Owen exemplified.

Applications are invited for a grant of up to $15,000 to research innovation, policies and programs that
will be relevant to achieving improved consumer outcomes in a dynamic and changing Australian
energy market.

Activities supported through the Scholarship

The Gill Owen scholar will engage with leading thinkers in other countries and report on new insights and knowledge to apply to problems faced by small energy consumers in Australia. The range of overseas activities would typically encompass:

  • visits to one or more countries to learn from energy consumer activities and experiences. (Given the resources available, you would have to provide a persuasive rationale for more than one country);
  • meetings with relevant individuals and organisations in the selected country; and
  • speaking engagements at conferences and similar events.

Energy Consumers Australia could suggest potential contacts from its network and will provide a letter of introduction.

The range of activities that must be undertaken after the return to Australia include:

  • producing a clear written report to (of at least 2000 words) communicate the learnings from the visit and meetings overseas, and their relevance for Australia;
  • meetings with consumer groups, energy companies, and government officials to promulgate what has been learnt
  • speaking engagements – including at the ECA’s annual Foresighting Forum and at least one other public event organised by Energy Consumers Australia or others.

Who can apply

Successful applicants should be able to demonstrate most of the following attributes:

  1. Australian citizens or permanent residents at least 18 years of age
  2. Experience in evidence-based research or advocacy relating to energy consumer issues
  3. Good knowledge of the key issues in the Australian energy market that drive energy consumer outcomes
  4. Good networking and communication skills to meet people, including senior officials and academics in your chosen country(ies)
  5. Good writing and presentation skills

Previous Recipients

2024 Gill Owen Scholar

Madison Sturgess has been awarded the 2024 Gill Owen Scholarship. Madison is the Clean Energy Project Lead at Original Power. As the Gill Owen Scholar, she will head to the UK to investigate community energy initiatives, which she aims to apply to First Nations and regional communities in Australia. We’re excited to share Madison’s research!

2023 Gill Owen Scholars

As the Gill Owen Scholarship was not awarded in 2021 and 2022 due to the international travel restrictions associated with COVID, two scholarships were awarded for 2023.

Our first recipient was Rob McLeod from Renew. Rob researched the Spanish response to heatwaves to enable Australia to strengthen its own response (read the report here). And our second recipient was Liz Fletcher, who travelled to Europe to better understand how we can improve our energy regulatory frameworks to become more consumer-centric.

2020 Gill Owen Scholar

Joel Dignam was awarded the 2020 Gill Owen Scholarship by Energy Consumers Australia.

Joel is the Chief Executive Officer of Better Renting.  He is an active and influential advocate for tenants, including calling for minimum energy performance standards in rental properties to help tenants live in healthy and affordable homes.

Joel’s research explores approaches to managing energy transitions in the United States, with a focus on California. The research will inform the research and policy agenda in the ACT, as well as other Australian States and Territories.

The full announcement can be read here.

Joel Dignam

2019 Gill Owen Scholar

Energy Consumers Australia is very pleased to publish the report of 2019 Gill Owen Scholar, Ash Salardini.

Ash is the first Gill Owen Scholar and his report, Maximising outcomes from retail electricity markets, raises interesting and challenging recommendations for the retail electricity market in Australia. Based on extensive interviews with experts, regulators and advocates in the United Kingdom and Texas, as well as in Australia, his recommendations include:

  • introducing a better definition of consumer outcome in the NEM, along with new metrics to ensure the market is delivering good outcomes for consumers
  • a stronger focus on innovation in the retail electricity market
  • new approaches to energy hardship, and
  • new market arrangements for rural and regional consumers.

Ash’s report can be found here.

The Gill Owen Essay Prize for 2020 has been awarded by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS. Information about the 2020 winner and the Prize can be found here.