Maintaining tenancies and maintaining a home were the main issues seen in Busselton by Anglicare WA, according to its chief executive officer Ian Carter.
Mr Carter visited Busselton on Tuesday and said the the issue of inequality had become a public debate, and while people could argue about the different forms of measurement – at the end of the day – there were far too many people living on or below the poverty line.
“There does need to be a national debate,” he said.
“We had some amazing things like Medicare and public housing, which is the envy of some other countries, but even within that, the way our society runs at the moment far too many people are being left behind.
“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.”
Mr Carter said with the rising cost of living expenses, people were increasingly reliant on accessing emergency financial assistance to cover their utility bills and living expenses.
He said the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme was being inundated with people across WA who were 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 should not have to make that kind of decision at the end of the day it is 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.”
Anglicare WA works closely with people in financial crisis across the state which was a concern for the organisation.
“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 were 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 in Busselton currently offer financial counselling services with a financial counsellor who has been there for 25 years.
“It really is built around a sense of community and a sense of local relationships, many of our local clients here actually went to school together. They know this place so it’s that sense of maintaining that sense of community,” Mr Carter said.
To find out more about Anglicare WA and the services they offer go to anglicarewa.org.au.