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POLL: Residents backs to the walls

HELP NEEDED: Warwick Corps Officer Lt Steve Spencer says Warwick’s situation is even worse than the national figures released this week.
HELP NEEDED: Warwick Corps Officer Lt Steve Spencer says Warwick’s situation is even worse than the national figures released this week. Michael Cormack

One Warwick couple, who spoke on the condition of anonymity - we will call them Kelly and Daniel - are better off than some but still feel the squeeze each day.

Kelly is unable to work because of a disability, while Daniel only has sporadic employment.

"After we pay our bills, there is little left and what is left goes on fuel and food," Daniel said.

"There have been times where we have had to borrow money for food.

"It's crossed my mind in the past to grab something off the shelves in the supermarket and run out with it.

"After we have dinner, we often turn off all the lights in the house to save electricity. We often can't even afford to have the television on."

According to figures released by the Salvation Army this week, one-quarter of Australians go without at least one major meal each day, 87% of adults and 60% of children surveyed reported severe deprivation and, on average, people had just $18 a day to live off after accommodation expenses.

While the nation-wide figures were frightening, Salvation Army corps officer for Warwick, Lieutenant Steve Spencer, says the Rose City is even worse off.

"From what I've seen in my role with the Salvation Army, if you did the figures for Warwick, they would probably be slightly worse off than the Australia-wide figures," Lt Spencer said.

"I've had quite a few experiences where I needed to make contact with a mental health unit for the person or the couple."

On average, Daniel said he worked about two days a week.

"I have nothing at this point in terms of work, I don't know when I will be working next," he said.

"I only find out each night if I'm working the next day.

"I've asked my boss to go full-time but he tells me there is no full-time work available."

 

Kelly said the situation had taken its toll on her.

"There has been plenty of crying," she said.

"After a while you just give up, you just get over it."

Lt Spencer said there was no single solution to the issue.

"There needs to be a top-down assessment (of society)," he said.

"There needs to be a systematic view - I don't think there is one true answer.

"I think there needs to be a look at everything - rates, taxes, the lot.

"Another thing I'm noticing is that the population is growing and so too is the divide between the richest and the poorest."

Lt Spencer said he was worried the situation would only get worse.

"It used to only be people who were unemployed or in a bad situation who were living below the poverty line," Lt Spencer said.

"Now the middle class is also getting close to the red line.

"It puts people only an injury at work or an illness away from the red line.

"Once you get behind, it can be awfully hard to catch up again."

The Salvation Army will hold its Red Shield Appeal today and tomorrow.

Look out for Red Shield collection tins at various businesses around Warwick to help those less fortunate.

Topics:  cost of living, editors picks, employment, poverty, unemployment



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