The rising cost of living is continuing to push people into homelessness and poverty, Warrnambool’s Salvation Army chief says.
As the organisation launches its annual Red Shield Appeal, Major Peter Wood urged people to contribute what they could to help others.
“The Red Shield Appeal is important because it funds our social programs. Without the public support a lot of our programs may not exist,” he said.
“(The appeal) really is so important to ongoing funding of our social programs that help homeless people, help people dealing with domestic violence and making ends meet. The Salvation Army is continuing to fight against things like homelessness, domestic violence and addictions.”
Major Wood said last week’s federal budget did not appear to offer much hope for those already doing it tough.
“The rising cost of living is always a pressure. We’ve just had the budget out… there’s not a lot there for people at the lower end of life,” he said.
“For people who are on Newstart Allowance there’s not much there. That will always be an issue.”
Major Wood said Salvation Army studies repeatedly showed that low income-earners or people on Newstart were “always struggling”.
“They might be able to make ends meet with the basic things like maybe rent, food, utilities, but if something goes on like the washing machine breaks down or the car breaks down or they get a big power bill in, it’s just not doable,” he said.
“They face the choice then of what do they pay and they will pay one thing but another thing will suffer so they’re always behind... That’s when they come to the Salvation Army and they just need that support.”
People who were struggling financially also found themselves socially isolated, Major Wood said.
“That is another big impact of people who live in poverty, or rely on welfare to make ends meet. Things like going out for coffee with friends is not doable, leading to social isolation,” he said.
“The cycle of poverty just continues on and it’s not a healthy situation to be in.”
Major Wood said the Salvation Army was already out and about collecting for the Red Shield Appeal. Shopping centre collecting will begin this week and collecting from the city’s intersections will begin soon.
“They can also contribute online at the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal website or they can come into our office and donate there as well, or through our thrift shop,” Major Wood said.