On the weekend of the Salvos’ annual Red Shield doorknock, their officer at Ulladulla says local circumstances bear out the organisation’s fifth National Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS).
The Salvation Army surveyed more than 1600 of its clients around Australia and found people from regional towns and rural areas to be over-represented.
The survey found children are hugely impacted by moving house multiple times a year, moving schools and missing out on medications, dental checks and access to the internet due to extreme poverty.
Jake Clanfield has been in Ulladulla since January 2013.
“I am very concerned about the conditions I see that many less well off members of our community have to endure - falling living standards and increasing financial stress,” he said.
The ESIS found 68 per cent of clients are now suffering extreme housing stress and that family violence is the leading cause of housing transiency, putting children at significant risk of social exclusion as a result.
"I see... falling living standards and increasing financial stress."- Jake Clanfield
“Many we have helped move here are escaping domestic violence and varieties of abuse, however the move causes great financial stress,” Mr Clanfield said.
“Affordable housing is a massive issue - rent takes much of the limited finances.”
They can’t pay sufficient rent because they can’t hold down full-time employment in a very limited job market while looking after children.
The survey said 68pc of clients and 58pc of households with children report severe deprivation and now go without five or more basic items, for example; medical treatment or three meals a day.
Numerous regional clients live off $16.96 a day to pay for everything after they pay for accommodation. Some on Newstart allowance have to survive off $15.29 a day.
“Much of the assistance we provide is food,” Mr Clanfield said.
“After bills, petrol, school fees, medication, phone or internet which many can’t afford, there is little money to put food on the table.
“This means some children and parents are going day to day without satisfactory nutrition and often skip meals.
“Not having basic needs that should be afforded to everyone takes not just a physical toll but an emotional toll, many people feel overwhelmed.”
Inability to afford the internet puts children at significant risk of social exclusion and hinders their ability to fully participate in schooling, the survey found.
Mr Clanfield said cost of health care is another issue.
The lack of local medical treatment in some specialist fields forces people to pay inflated costs for appointments and the travel costs to attend them outside the district.
The Salvos will direct more funding to its domestic violence and family support services from this weekend’s Red Shield Appeal, May 28-29.
You can donate by calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58), online at salvos.org.au/donate, in person at any Westpac branch or Salvos Store, or by posting a cheque to PO Box 9888 in your capital city. SMS 1999 2769 to donate five dollars.
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