State of Sydney Report ‘Confronting’
8 May 2014 at 11:18 am
A new report on the living conditions of people seeking emergency relief in Sydney and surrounding areas has been described as confronting by welfare agency Anglicare.
The report by Anglicare Sydney reveals that two out of three households seeking emergency relief try to live on $500 week.
The sixth annual State of Sydney Report draws on nearly seven years of data from the organisation’s Emergency Relief Centres across Sydney and the Illawarra.
The report based its findings on close to 40,000 people who made 108,051 visits to the organisation’s Emergency Relief Centres.
According to Anglicare Sydney Director of Advocacy and Research Sue King, this is the first time the organisation has been able to report so comprehensively on disadvantage.
“Even for those of us who work in the sector, the results are confronting,” King said.
The report showed that two out of three household were trying to live on less than $500 per week and almost one in 10 families were living in squats refuges, cars, on the street, in boarding houses, in emergency hotel/motel accommodation or staying with friends.
It also showed an increasing trend in the financial assistance provided to low income families, showing that in July 2007 clients received an average of $98 in financial assistance and in January 2014, the average assistance given was $169 – an increase of 73 per cent.
Other findings included: one in four households had someone with a disability; Aboriginal people were significantly overrepresented – six times the national average; and, almost 5000 households were experiencing homelessness over the period – more than one in five such households had children present.
“Again however, rental affordability was a big issue,” King said.
“Almost one third (32 per cent) of all households were in severe rental stress, spending more than 45 per cent of their income on rent. This was particularly problematic for people in the private rental market.
“When families on low incomes spend a large proportion of their income on rent, they are forced to make hard choices.”
Anglicare Sydney, which recently launched its Winter Appeal, will look to fill a $3 million gap in its Emergency Relief programs.
“This winter maintaining shelter will take precedence over food for many households,” King said.
“We expect to see an upsurge in people accessing our services over the next few months to get assistance with both food and electricity bills.”