Our Strategy

Our Strategy

You can download a PDF of the 2018 AEF Strategic Plan, or browse through its content below:

Table of Contents

  1. Message from the Chair & CEO
  2. Vision, Role, Strategic Goals and Values
  3. Community
  4. Current State
  5. Future State
  6. Strategic Plan on a Page

Message from the Chair & CEO

Travis Neal

This is an exciting time at the Australian Energy Foundation.

I have worked extensively in the renewable energy sector, inside both private and public institutions, and have been impressed by the great work the organisation has been able to deliver on behalf of all Australians, but particularly for those who are the most vulnerable.

We are facing a major transition of how our energy is produced, transported, stored and used. While this transition is necessary, what it looks like and how quickly we are able to do so is by no means clear.

We are ready to play a major national role in this transition.

To do this we will focus on building successful, sustainable business models that will see us through the energy transition, regardless of the inevitable ebbs and flows of the Australian political landscape. While we are a for-purpose organisation, we are also increasingly growing our business acumen. Our focus on the coming years will be on generating and returning a profit, in the form of time or money or other resources, to our most vulnerable communities.

This strategic plan outlines how we will achieve this through our role in this transition, which is to accelerate the energy transition by empowering communities to take action.

Alison Rowe

Alison Rowe profile
Being the CEO of the Australian Energy Foundation fills me with pride.

It is with that same pride that I share with you our strategic plan. This plan is the first that I have had the opportunity to build from the ground up. It has been a comprehensive process with all of our staff, leadership team, board and partners engaged in robust discussions about the challenges we face and the role we can play in responding to them.

The opportunity to work with the organisation throughout this process has proven to me how ready we are for this next phase of action. We have a strategic plan that reflects our big ambitions while ultimately remaining implementable, making sure we are all set up to succeed.

The last few years have been a time of growth for the team. Our focus now is to continue to build a consistently high performing, skilled and flexible team while continuing to deliver the high-quality work we have become nationally recognised for.

Ultimately the lynch pin for this strategic plan will be one of our defining strengths as an organisation – partnerships. From the first day we were founded we have excelled at building partnerships that deliver both impact and strong relationships.

We consistently achieve outcomes in partnership with businesses, community organisations, government and, most importantly, the everyday people who are most impacted by climate change and energy poverty across Australia.

To succeed at our vision we will continue to build upon this rich legacy so that we can create an equitable zero carbon society for all Australians.

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An equitable zero carbon society.

Climate change is our greatest threat, it is also our biggest opportunity. Working together to meet the threat of climate change, we can create an equitable zero carbon future for all.

In an equitable zero carbon society people have access to the energy they need to be healthy, have meaningful work, maintain financial stability, connect with their community, prosper through continuous learning and live in a thriving natural environment.


To accelerate the energy transition by empowering communities to take action.

The future of energy will look radically different to energy today. Generated differently, distributed and used differently, bought and sold differently. This means significant change for all parts of our communities. We work hard to ensure communities play a meaningful part in this transition.

We are a trusted educator, partner, advisor and service provider. Our job is to build partnerships that demonstrate what’s possible, to give the right advice and make sure people have access to the information and technology they need to take action.

Our work is focused on Australia’s transition but we are recognised as an international leader in the work that we do. That’s why we take the time to learn from others and share our work globally.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals

In developing this ambitious, nationally focussed Strategic Plan, the Australian Energy Foundation has looked to link our goals and objectives with the global framework provided by the UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Read more here: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

Through this strategic plan the Australian Energy Foundation is playing our part in working toward the following Sustainable Development Goals and this plan specifically supports:

  • Goal 1 NO POVERTY: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 5 GENDER EQUALITY: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls through our internal work on diversity and inclusion
  • Goal 7 AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 9 INDUSTRIES, INNOVATION and INFRASTRCUTURE: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 11 SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12 RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13 CLIMATE ACTION: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
  • Goal 17 PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Strategic Goals

We have three strategic goals that lead us towards our vision.

Goal 1

We create, demonstrate and share clear transition pathways to a zero carbon society.

Goal 2

We increase energy efficiency and investment in renewable energy in Australia.

Goal 3

We are a sustainable organisation.


How we behave along the way

  • Innovation – We think ‘outside the box’, seeking to be innovative, inspiring, enquiring, responsive and creative.
  • Honesty – We believe in speaking directly and providing independent, well-researched and clear advice.
  • Respect – We treat everyone with respect and dignity, appreciating individual and cultural diversity.
  • Resilience – We recognise that change doesn’t happen overnight, but requires flexibility, dedication and determination.
  • Team work – We work collaboratively as a team, in our own workplace and in our dealings with the wider community and our partners.

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We are transitioning to a zero carbon society.

In order to achieve this energy transition we must all be empowered to take action and create change.

As a society, we understand we are in a global climate crisis. The AEF has joined the 70+ local governments across Australia and a growing number of businesses in declaring a Climate Emergency.

The summer of 2018/19 was characterised by prolonged, continental-wide heatwaves, bushfires throughout Australia, and heavy rainfall and flooding in northern Queensland. In just 90 days, over 206 records were broken, including record-highest summer temperatures, record number of days over 35°C or above and record-lowest and highest summer total rainfalls. – Climate Council Report – The Angriest Summer

And we know what we need to do…

“There are multiple mitigation pathways that are likely to limit warming to below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels. These pathways would require substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades and near zero emissions of CO2 and other long-lived greenhouse gases by the end of the century.” – IPCC Climate Change 2014 – Synthesis Report

There is an urgency to act and we are seeing some promising signs of change. Renewable wind and solar energy have already reached cost parity with coal in Australia, and costs continue to fall.

If we are to achieve our targets, the pockets of excellence and enthusiasm in government, business and the community need to be shared, replicated and scaled up in order to spread the impact.

In 2019, Australians rank climate change at the top of a list of ten possible threats to Australia’s vital interests in the next ten years. A majority of Australian adults (64%) see climate change as ‘a critical threat’, an increase of six points from 2018 and 18 points since 2014. – 2019 Lowy Institute Poll – Australian Attitudes to Climate Change

As consumers, Australian’s have high expectations. What they need now is clear information that helps them transition to a zero carbon economy where they understand their options to buy and use energy wisely.

Solutions also need to address the impacts of climate change on our most vulnerable citizens. A recent KPMG report says that more than 240,000 Australians are experiencing energy poverty, this includes over 200,000 children. Large, low income families in public and social housing in our big cities are the most exposed. Indigenous communities are also amongst the hardest hit.

This is having a huge impact on quality of life for many Australians.

The Energy Poverty Action Initiative of the World Economic Forum asserts that “access to energy is fundamental to improving quality of life and is a key imperative for economic development.”

Australia currently has a significant opportunity to use our response to the climate crisis to transition our rapidly changing energy sector to a fairer, more equitable service for all.

It is an unprecedented moment of opportunity, risk and choice for humanity.

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Current State

Reputation, history and leadership

The AEF is leading the way to a zero carbon society by demonstrating the pathways; influencing and inspiring to build understanding, investment and action; and delivering solutions that have a positive impact through bold, innovative and effective projects and campaigns.

We are known and respected across Australia for working closely with communities, businesses and councils to deliver on their collective carbon reduction goals. AEF provides leadership and expertise to the globe and we are building our profile on the international stage.

This solid reputation has been built upon a legacy of effort from the generous, passionate and focused people who have worked for, or governed, this evolving organisation since 2000.

Our focus

Stationary energy is our focus. In particular the generation, distribution and sale of electricity and how we can transition to a more efficient, transparent and equitable electricity market fuelled by renewable energy.

AEF delivers programs, projects, products and services that ensure households, businesses, community organisations and all levels of government have the information, advice, products and services they can trust to help them make the transition.

Our impact

Our greatest impact is in the reduction of carbon emissions achieved through uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency. During the last six years we have reduced over 330,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. AEF also demonstrates successful models that deliver change to all parts of our society, including the most vulnerable in our community.


We are expanding our reach across Australia in order to accelerate the energy transition. We now deliver Energy Advice Services nationally. As we grow, we need to ensure this larger organisation remains sustainable, supports its people, and maximises its impact.

Our People

Our people are our greatest strength. We work towards our vision thanks to their expertise, their passion, and their ability to collaborate with partners and engage communities.

Our people love working at AEF. Our staff consistently report they are both happy and proud to work here. Our people have also reported a high level of comfort in approaching their manager with any issues or challenges. The organisation aims to maintain and strengthen this working environment to benefit our people.

Being responsive to the market and project focused has seen the organisation build a great reputation. And as we grow, we need to maintain our ability to communicate well and promote a good work-life balance, while consistently delivering high quality projects.


We work with all levels of government including Federal, State and Local, and they are critical partners in our work. In Victoria, we deliver projects with several State Government departments and agencies. We are also building relationships with State Governments in NSW, through the Office for Environment and Heritage, and Queensland, through the Department of Energy and Water Supply.

AEF has also been delivering some projects directly with key departments and agencies within the Federal Government such as ARENA and the Department of Environment and Energy.

In order to address the issue of energy poverty and achieve significant social impact, AEF works with national partners such as the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Kildonan Uniting Care, and state partners such as the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS).

We have strong relationships with more than 20 LGAs across Victoria. Over the last ten years, we have been expanding our horizons and are now broadening our partnerships to include councils in NSW, South Australia and Queensland. We have a new significant partner the South Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC), which has proven to be a critical conduit between us and their local government members. AEF is building on these types of partnerships to include the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC) and the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC).

The Moreland City Council was our first LGA partner and this is where we trial and pilot our new projects.

Our partnerships with electricity distributors and energy retailers have grown significantly in the past four years. Moving from information sharing to co designing and delivering projects and services together to better serve the community.

One of our most important relationships is with our suppliers of renewable energy and energy efficiency products and services. We all succeed when they deliver a high-quality product, on time and on budget. Therefore, AEF continues to work with its partners to make sure that there is adequate supply to meet the growing consumer demand.

Building on our reputation for being able to engage local communities, we have also been working more closely with consumer bodies nationally, like Energy Consumers Australia. This ensures Australians are able to make well informed choices about their energy consumption in the face of the coming market complexities.

The growing community energy sector has been emerging as a key partner on several projects in recent years and will continue to be an area the Australian Energy Foundation will seek to support and partner with.

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Future State

Reputation, experience and leadership

We are recognised as the partner of choice as we effectively deliver on our carbon reduction targets through grass roots community action projects, which we deliver all across Australia. Our success in innovative projects, thought leadership and national delivery establishes our position as a global leader.

Our relationships with Australia-wide LGAs have grown exponentially. And we implement innovative trials and pilots at our ‘home base’ before sharing our expertise nationally.

The team works effectively to manage a rapidly growing organisation, and the dynamic board continues to balance the need for a steady hand with the need to be responsive and dynamic.

Our focus

Stationary energy and the energy transition continue to be our focus. The energy transition results in energy being generated differently, distributed and used differently, bought and sold differently.

We are delivering major projects that deliver great energy efficiency, renewable energy and financial outcomes.

We are delivering trusted information, advice and products for those who can afford to pay and providing solutions for those who can’t – either in partnership with different levels of government or through internal investment.

Our impact

We work towards our vision of an equitable zero carbon society by accelerating the energy transition through empowering communities to create lasting change.

AEF delivers significant carbon savings through our programs and the increasingly rapid uptake of renewable energy across Australia. We deliver both energy and financial savings for households, businesses and community organisations. People’s homes, businesses, schools and community facilities are more comfortable and efficient, supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, particularly the most vulnerable in our society. This provides us with measurable health and social impacts throughout society.


The AEF is making good strategic decisions based on solid evidence and timely planning. Our clear evaluation framework and methodology are consistently used to understand and share information about our social impact.


Our people work in a way that is flexible, adaptable and highly skilled. We have a diverse team who are all highly engaged, motivated, and connected to a shared purpose. AEF’s culture of inclusion and exceptional diversity management practices means that we are a leading employer of choice who prospers from the business benefits of a diverse workforce.


AEF is working in new ways with a broader range of partners. We work with all levels of government, energy companies and community organisations, product suppliers and installers, consulting firms, researchers, universities, consumer organisations, social and health providers.

We seek to find opportunities to collaborate with potential competitors, we co-design and co-deliver to find ways of creating value for individuals, businesses and the broader community. We also recognise that sometimes a little competition is healthy for the sector and can drive innovation in unexpected ways.

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Strategic Plan on a Page

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