Our alarming poverty levels
From page 1
In Kyabram and district, 7 per cent of those employed full-time were living in poverty, 9 per cent of those employed part-time were living in poverty and 50 per cent of those unemployed were living in poverty.
Ms Savage said it was not as simple as just getting a job and not living in poverty. She also said the minimum wage was not sufficient to provide the resources necessary to live above the poverty line.
“Getting a job and entering the process is obviously a good start, however not all people with a job are able to cover all expenses they require.
Ms Savage named five ‘drivers’ of poverty, including housing, work and income, education, health and available services.
“Currently in our region there is a shortage of housing available for people,” she said.
“The low number of houses and rentals is resulting in many people being homeless who are connected to the area and not able or willing to move due to the lack of connection and or support they would have in an alternative setting.
“A lack of affordable housing impacts on a person’s ability to find work, education and training, as such opportunities exist largely in regions and cities with high housing prices and rental rates.
Ms Savage said the cycle of low education levels can be linked to unemployment and, consequently, the risk of living in poverty.
“Families with low levels of education often cannot afford to offer their children the opportunity to complete school or higher qualifications.’’
According to Ms Savage, the slippery slope of poverty and homelessness can often lead to greater levels of physical and mental illness.
She said one of the key strategies to prevent poverty is improving access to affordable community services.
“These services are under strain in Kyabram,” she said.
“We have a challenge securing the funding required to have services travel from Bendigo to assist our community in Kyabram.”
According to Ms Savage, despite the strain on services, there are many people in Kyabram working to support people experiencing poverty.
“People can volunteer to support initiatives operating including; showers available for public use at the youth hall, community meal at KCLC, community meal at St Andrews Church, Donate and volunteer to St Vinnies, Salvation Army, KCLC to assist in supporting people in need, donate to Christmas Appeals, coat drives in winter, food relief drives that are all held throughout the year to support local families,” she said.
“Currently KCLC provides food hampers to families and provide free food at the front of KCLC, donated clothing is also available here.’’