8 minute read

Raise your voice for energy efficiency and social equity

Tim Nelson
Tim Nelson
28 August 2017

AGL Energy, the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS, the Association for Environmental and Energy Equity, Uniting Communities and The Guardian Australia are very proud to announce an essay competition to honour the memory of Dr Gill Owen.

Dr Gill Owen was a tireless campaigner in the fields of energy efficiency and social equity.

A passionate and pioneering campaigner for social justice, Gill was one of the first women to bring the voices of the consumer and the disadvantaged to the Boards of the UK’s and Australia’s competition and economic regulators.

Gill fought bravely and passionately for these causes until her untimely death from an aggressive brain tumour in August 2016.

To celebrate Gill’s contribution to the empowerment of the disadvantaged and her unwavering commitment to improving energy efficiency, we invite emerging voices under the age of 35 to offer their own valuable perspective on the future of energy efficiency and social equity. This essay competition will be held annually until 2019.

“When Gill and I did our first piece of policy work in Australia in 1983, little did we think how long our association with the policy communities in the country would be. This competition is a wonderful way to mark Gill’s work and I would also like to thank all those who have enabled this to happen and in particular the team at UTS. I look forward to stimulating new thought from those who can build on Gill’s work afresh”

  • David Green, Gill Owen’s husband and former CEO, Clean Energy Council


Entries are open from Monday 28 August until Friday 10th November 2017. Essays of between 700 and 1,500 words on the theme of energy efficiency and social equity are eligible.

Topics could include:

  • Improving energy efficiency is intrinsically linked to improvements in social equity; or
  • Improving home energy efficiency is a greater help for vulnerable consumers than cash rebate; or
  • Energy efficiency and the “merit order effect” – how saving energy even helps those consumers who don’t save energy; or
  • An alternative topic relevant to the above theme.

Participants are encouraged to discuss changes to policy which may improve the future outlook of energy efficiency and social equity.

The purpose of the prize is to encourage emerging voices, so essays must be written by authors aged 35 and under (i.e. date of birth after 10 November 1981).

Essays must contain an evidence based argument in relation to the theme and reference Gill Owen’s work, research or publications.

The Guardian Australia has the first right for publishing all entries.

Judging criteria

Essays will be judged for their:

  • Clarity and style
  • Originality and innovative thinking
  • Their relevance to the theme of energy efficiency and social equity
  • Their potential impact for positive change in relation energy efficiency and social equity

Panel of judges: Alex Spring (The Guardian Australia), Tim Nelson (AGL Energy Ltd),      Ric Brazzale (Association for Environmental and Energy Equity), Mark Henley (Uniting Communities), Chris Dunstan (Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney) and David Green (Gill Owen’s husband and former CEO, Clean Energy Council).


  • The winning essay will receive a cash prize of $3,000.
  • Two runner-up essays will receive a cash prize of $1,000 each (one for an enrolled student and one for a non-student).
  • In addition to the cash prize, the winning entry will be published online with The Guardian Australia (subject to the Guardian Australia’s normal editorial guidelines).


Monday 28th August 2017: competition opens (on the anniversary of Dr Owen's death).

Friday 10th November 2017: competition closes.

Early December 2017: winners announced (date to be confirmed).

Late February 2018: Awards presentation ceremony in Sydney or Melbourne (date to be confirmed).


  • AGL Energy Limited
  • Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS
  • Association for Environmental and Energy Equity
  • Uniting Communities
  • Media partner: The Guardian Australia

How to enter

Email your essay to Erika.Wagner@uts.edu.au by 6pm Friday 10 November 2017 along with proof of age (e.g. copy of drivers licence or similar) and evidence of your status as enrolled student if you wish to be considered for the student category (e.g. copy of student card).