With the rising cost of living expenses, people are becoming increasingly reliant on accessing emergency financial assistance to cover their utility bills and living expenses, according to Anglicare WA chief executive officer Ian Carter.
Mr Carter said the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme was being inundated with people across Western Australia, who are struggling to pay their utility bills more than ever before.
“There are a lot of people who we work with who make decisions to pay one utility bill over the other, (which means they could be without things such as heating or water) I find that tragic,” he said.
“For families in crisis they shouldn’t have to be making that kind of decision at the end of the day it’s just the fact that all of those prices are rising and welfare benefits are staying exactly the same, and the gap is drifting further and further apart.”
Mr Carter said people in financial crisis across the state was an issue Anglicare were working closely with people on at the moment.
“Most welfare payments are at the same level they have been at for a long time they are low and not sufficient enough. There has also been virtually no wages growth going on at the moment,” he said.
Mr Carter said assistance from the local community could be crucial during times of financial hardship.
“It’s also about communities coming together, which they do really well down this way. Donations of food and blankets are important to families. The really important thing with emergency relief money is from our perspective to make sure that people get a chance to really make a difference to their lives,” he said.
Mr Carter said there needed to be a national debate on the amount of people in Australia who are currently living below the poverty line.
“The way our society runs at the moment far too many people are being left behind, and I think as a community we need to stand up and say ‘the vast majority of these people, through no fault of their own find themselves in this circumstance’,”he said.
Anglicare has two offices in Bunbury staffed by housing support workers. They also offer financial counselling.
“In Bunbury we are also involved with working with separated families and work on trying to stabilise those arrangements and allow contact for non-custodial parents,” he said.
To find out more about Anglicare WA and the services they offer visit anglicarewa.org.au.