Vinnies to support a new wave of struggling Queenslanders as COVID-19 raises the poverty line
Those ‘too wealthy’ for welfare urged to put their hand up this Anti-Poverty Week
As the national economy retracts at the fastest rate seen since World War II, the St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) Queensland is urging more Queenslanders affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to seek the help they need this Anti-Poverty Week in a bid to prevent an entirely new economic class from facing homelessness.
It is estimated more than 234,000 Queenslanders have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and unemployment is forecast to peak at a record nine per cent in the December quarter, creating a new wave of need across the state.
With the latest figures from Homelessness Australia showing Queensland is home to nine of the 20 national homelessness hotspots in the country, Vinnies Queensland is playing a significant role in stabilising households and individuals as JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments continue to reduce, and are eventually phased out.
St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Mercer, said Vinnies’ services have never been so important for Queenslanders struggling in this time of recession.
“In July, we saw Queensland’s unemployment rate jump to well above the national average, despite our Government’s best attempt at keeping people in jobs and food on the table,” he said.
“The payment of mortgage instalments, car expenses and school fees have become unmanageable, and savings have been drained for many families who previously considered themselves in a financially sound position.
“It is Vinnies’ job to stand in solidarity with not only those living under the poverty line, but the people in our community who — due to the economic impacts of the pandemic — are now at great risk of entering poverty, perhaps for the first time in their life,” Mr Mercer said.
With 230,000 children across the state at risk of living below the poverty line with the ceasing of government support, Vinnies Queensland is not only tackling economic hardship for those in the workforce, but intergenerational poverty through long-term, holistic support for parents looking to provide their children with education and an improved quality of life.
One Queensland woman benefitting from Vinnies Queensland’s support for the first time is Townsville mother and business owner Sally*, who was at risk of having to pull her son out his current school when the café she ran with her husband was forced to close due to COVID-19.
“We were given just one day’s notice to close our family business, which has been our livelihood and major source of income for the last eight years. That financial shock, along with a rejection from our insurance company for lost income and unexpected medical bills, put our family in a precarious financial position we have never been in before,” she said.
“I was hesitant to ask Vinnies for help because I felt like many families out there likely have it tougher, but the support we’ve been given to continue to pay our son’s school fees and keep some level of stability for him during this time has been truly meaningful for our family.”
As the largest homelessness service provider in Queensland, Vinnies Queensland’s vision is to support, sustain and build the capacity of Queenslanders to create a stronger economy through their participation in new employment opportunities provided by economic stimulus.
For more information on Vinnies Queensland’s COVID-19 financial support services, visit: https://qld.vinnies.org.au/covid-19-emergency-response
*Name changed to ensure privacy.