RESIDENTS in the Echuca region are being warned to prepare for increases to the cost of living in 2017.
The cost of many household essentials and basic services in Victoria — including public transport, energy, water, postage and council rates — will jump in the New Year, fuelling concerns among welfare agencies about the impact on the state’s most vulnerable.
Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) chief executive Emma King said some price rises were understandable, but excessive increases or price gouging was unacceptable.
‘‘It might seem like just a couple of dollars here or there, but these increases add up across a household budget,’’ she said.
‘‘A record 726,900 Victorians now live below the poverty line. Many people are living week to week, or going without.
‘‘The last thing struggling Victorians need is another whack to the hip pocket.’’
A breakdown of the price rises, compiled by VCOSS, shows most public transport fares will increase 3.9 per cent, electricity costs will climb 8.4 per cent in 2017/18, while the basic postage rate will jump from 70c to $1.
Ms King said service providers should be able to justify every dollar increase ‘‘just as households have to justify every dollar they spend’’.
‘‘If people are struggling to pay their bills they should talk to service providers directly about hardship policies or payment plans,’’ she said.
‘‘Service providers need genuine, compassionate and flexible hardship policies for people who are doing it tough.’’
Divine new tool
THE first stage of an innovative new assessment tool has been developed by Goulburn-Murray Water to help landowners reduce risks when identifying and investing in groundwater.
The Groundwater Interference Assessment Tool will provide landholders with information about the best possible place to drill for groundwater.
GMW senior hydrogeologist Brendan Cossens presented the tool at the Victorian water industry association innovation conference at the end of July.
He said it would reduce the risk for landowners considering using groundwater.
‘‘The decision to put in a bore for irrigation is expensive and can be fraught with risk,’’ Mr Cossens said.
The GIAT reduces that risk by informing the best location to drill to improve the chances of intersecting a suitable aquifer; identifying the management arrangements, such as if entitlement is available or if they need to trade; and determining the likelihood of obtaining a licence based on the risk of pumping impacts to surrounding groundwater users and the environment.
The development of the GIAT is a staged project and a version of the tool is already in use with GMW to assist with assessing licence applications.
The next steps being considered include automating data inputs, providing a spatial platform, and making the tool available on the internet.
Groundwater is water found beneath the earth’s surface in pores and crevices of sand and rocks, which are known as aquifers.
For more information about the GIAT, phone Brendan Cossens at GMW’s Cairn Curran office on (03) 5457 3907.
For more information groundwater, go www.gmwater.com.au/groundwater on to