Helping hand for families in trouble
AT the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre we work in a style that is driven by and responsive to the needs of people in the community.
Information released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week highlighted our local area as a “high needs” centre of population.
With greater than average unemployment rates and lower than average incomes, some families in Hervey Bay are just one medical or household emergency short of financial crisis.
The need to take a child to Brisbane for specialist treatment or the refrigerator finally “giving up the ghost” can put the family budget in serious jeopardy.
The result of this financial pressure can cause family disharmony and personal stress in the first instance; for some families it is the beginning of a pathway that may result in defaulting in rent and the possibility of homelessness.
The Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre is just one organisation in our region that provides support for families experiencing financial crisis.
With funding from both the federal and state governments, emergency relief programs are designed to be a bit of extra support provided to a family or individuals to give a bit of relief through a particularly difficult and challenging time.
In the 2008-2009 financial year, our trained emergency relief volunteers and staff at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre saw 1110 clients.
This represents a substantial increase over the same time period in the previous year.
This increase is reflective of the complex and high needs of our community.
Approximately 46 per cent of these clients were male. Those clients seen were the parents of 1116 children.
In keeping with the local demographic pressures of one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, the biggest single issue expressed by emergency relief clients in Hervey Bay was finding and retaining and paying for accommodation.
As we continue to experience rapid growth in Hervey Bay, and with the present economic situation, we can only expect this trend to continue.
Other agencies providing emergency relief support in our community include St Vincent de Paul Society, Salvation Army and We Care 2.
All of our services are provided through the hard work and commitment of volunteers. Principally, we are able to offer support for the purchase of food. Clients are interviewed by emergency relief workers and must meet the specific criteria of the service to be eligible for assistance.
Our volunteers and clients live with the challenges that exist in our current premises at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.
Due to our severe space limitations and the need for accessibility, our emergency relief volunteers often meet with clients in a reclaimed broom closet.
We look forward to the continuation of emergency relief program in a more appropriate space in the new Hervey Bay Community Centre.