The spirit of community
is needed now more than ever
Melissa Batchelor, Donor Relations Co-ordinator
Western Australia is facing a real crisis, almost every household is feeling the effects of the rising cost of living, the rental crisis and interest rate rises. If you are lucky enough to avoid the crisis, you will know someone that is not.
This month I want to share with you the reality of just how tough things are for our entire community, right now.
The Emergency Relief and Food Access Service (ERFAS) is a free, accessible, phone-based service delivered by Anglicare WA on behalf of the Financial Wellbeing Collective.
Our dedicated team listens to those in need right across WA and connects them to local services for emergency relief support.
ERFAS was established in the early days of the pandemic when lock downs and service closures made it hard for people to get help. We partnered with other organisations to make it easier for someone to access the help they needed and to provide wrap around support. Looking back, we had no idea at the time that the pandemic would be a dress rehearsal for the pain so many families are now experiencing.
This is our challenge, and it looks like it will be here for a while.
Not only are those who are on lower income or were already facing hardship hurting, those who have been able to get by for most of their lives are now finding themselves in a hard place for the very first time.
In February, ERFAS received a record number of calls; 3,761 people rang. This was a 74% increase on the same period in 2022, and the numbers continue to rise. What is more frightening is that people who normally would not need help to get by are now reaching out for support.
The number of people seeking support who are working – and still can’t make ends meet - has doubled since last January:
- We have seen a 126% increase in people with a mortgage phoning for help.
- There has been a 150% rise in calls for assistance from people who own their own home outright.
Since the start of this year the number of calls each month has stayed above 3,400 – and this is only one service.
It’s estimated that a family of four, with a $500,000 mortgage is paying an extra $245 per week for housing, food, energy and transport.
For someone like Georgia*, a single mum who relies on government support to help keep a roof over her head and food on the table, there are added complexities.
Georgia reached out to ERFAS because she couldn’t afford nappies for her daughter. After paying her rent she spent what was left of her money on food, fuel and the phone bill.
Through ERFAS Georgia was connected with a local emergency relief service that was able to provide her with a bag of nappies. They know her now and will be able to support her if she gets into strife again.
For several years there has been an ongoing campaign to lift our most vulnerable above the poverty line. Raise the Rate argues that Job Seeker and the Youth Allowance are so low that they hold people down, that those on government support need additional funds if they are to build a good life. Now rents have increased, food has increased, utilities have increased, and fuel has increased; those who are most vulnerable need our support more than ever.
At Anglicare WA we know that the current crisis might be affecting you and your family. Please remember if you need our support or know someone who does, we are here. No matter your situation, we will do our very best to support you and get you back on your feet.