Poverty crisis deepens

Trudy Miller and Amanda Macraz do their best to keep up with the high demand for food hampers at Uniting in Sunshine.

By Tate Papworth

More than 34,000 Brimbank residents are living in poverty, according to a report released by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling and the Victorian Council of Social Service.

The report, Every suburb Every town Poverty in Victoria, said the poverty rate in Brimbank was at 20 per cent. Women make up 57 per cent of the numbers, while 12 per cent were aged over 65.

Uniting Vic.Tas, the community services organisation of the Uniting Church, said the crisis was expected to escalate.

In the 2017-18 financial year, Uniting
Vic.Tas provided more than $50,000 of food to support 1200 families and individuals out of its centres in Sunshine and St Albans.

Of these, 543 households approached Uniting for help for the first time, while 25 locals said they were homeless and sleeping rough.

Uniting Sunshine emergency relief services co-ordinator Trudy Miller said a number of factors were contributing to the problem.

“The cost of renting is going up. Wages have deteriorated and people are increasingly finding the only job they can get is casual and part-time,” she said.

“The knock-on effect is that people simply can’t afford to buy food or pay their bills.”

In response, Uniting Vic.Tas is urging more fortunate residents to help families in crisis have enough food to last through the upcoming festive season.

The Food for Families 2018 appeal is tipped to be the organisation’s largest yet.

It hopes to bring in 70 tonnes, or 20,000 shopping bags of non-perishable food and household essentials, to help meet the growing demand.

“With no savings or additional resources, feeding their family means a lot less money is put towards things that make a difference such as health and education,” Ms Miller said.

View the report at: vcoss.org.au