COST OF LIVING: Anti-Poverty Week highlights a growing social issue across the region

While poverty may not be overtly visible on the streets of Dubbo, it is still an issue affecting many families in the region according to Mission Australia.

This week is National Anti-Poverty Week, which aims to strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of hardship and encourage action to address the problems. 

“I really think that in regional areas poverty seems to be a lot more hidden, purely because we don’t have the homeless people on the streets like they do in metropolitan areas,” Mission Australia central and far west NSW area manager Dale Towns said.

“It really does affect quite a lot of people in the region.

“Because of high costs of living it’s not just disadvantaged families, but now income earners are also impacted by increasing rent prices and the costs of electricity.”

Emergency food is one of the most common ways Mission Australia helped families in hardship, Ms Towns said.

“They live in a home, they pay their bills, they send their kids to school, they just don’t have enough money to see them across the week,” she said.

“Housing is another big issue that we deal with. We are seeing an increasing number of households in housing stress, that is they are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent or mortgage repayments.”

The NSW Council of Social Services (NCOSS), which held consultations in areas such as Dubbo, Orange and Broken Hill, identified housing as a key problem across the state.

“Without access to housing people find it almost impossible to get and keep a job, to send their kids to school or to address any other ongoing issues in their lives. It’s a key foundation for addressing disadvantage,” NCOSS chief executive officer Tracy Howe said.

The organisation is calling for the NSW government to commit $711 million to deliver a significant increase in the state’s affordable housing.

“NSW currently ranks number one in the nation’s economic rankings yet too many people in NSW are experiencing poverty and disadvantage. It doesn’t have to be that way,” Ms Howe said.

“As a society we can choose to take action to ensure everyone benefits from the prosperity NSW is experiencing.”

Ms Towns said she encouraged anyone who was struggling to contact their local charity group.

“For family and friends, probably talking to them and encouraging people to get support is the best thing you can do. A lot of people are embarrassed and don’t want to ask for help.”

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