The Advertiser

They depend on your help

- CHRISTOPHE­R RUSSELL OPINION

SOUTH Australian­s rightly pride themselves on being a compassion­ate and generous people, always ready to help those in need.

Sadly, the number of people in need is growing and is likely to worsen. In the next couple of years, jobs will disappear as automotive manufactur­ing closes and no major employer steps into the breach.

Coupled with that, the downturn in commodity prices causing job losses and project delays and the indecision by the Federal Government on Defence acquisitio­ns, will make a bad situation worse.

Fortunatel­y, Australia has one of the best welfare systems in the world and thousands of people will be able to get by until the economy recovers. But, it’s not enough. Already charity groups are being stretched to the point of being unable to meet demand.

St Vincent de Paul Society says that in 2014 they were unable to answer 1400 calls in the Elizabeth and Salisbury area.

This year it is tracking towards 5000 unanswered calls.

“The increase is startling and of grave concern,” chief executive David Wark says.

While government­s look after big pieces of the poverty puzzle, groups like Vinnies are at the human frontline.

They are the ones who not only offer a bed for the night but also work with people as individual­s to talk through options without the judgmental factor that sits behind a government bureaucrat.

This Thursday, Vinnies holds one of its most important fundraisin­g and awareness lifting events – the CEO Sleepout.

Some 87 CEOs will spend a night in Victoria Square with a sheet of cardboard and sleeping bag for comfort.

It is only a glimpse of that other world, not some great hardship. But it does give time to pause and reflect.

It also is an opportunit­y to hear the stories of people who slipped off the treadmill of working life – often through no fault of their own.

Stories not of despair but of courage and hope as those people were guided back to become valued and productive members of society.

The funds are desperatel­y needed – $60 provides a coat and shoes for winter; $750 will feed 49 men for a week in crisis accommodat­ion; $1200 pays a month’s rent for a woman fleeing domestic violence.

The most recent Australian Taxation Office data shows there’s plenty of room for more people to be involved. The data found that 35.62 per cent of taxpayers claim for making a gift to a registered charity.

At an average of $494.25, the gifts represent 0.33 per cent of income.

That contributi­on is spread across charities serving social, religious, health, internatio­nal and animal welfare and those set up for disaster relief.

As government­s tighten their belts, the burden will increasing­ly fall on charities.

SA’s philanthro­pic culture needs to be encouraged to meet the gap.

$60 provides a coat

and shoes for winter; $750 will feed 49 men for

a week

CHRIS RUSSELL WILL BE AMONG CEOS AT THE SLEEPOUT. TO DONATE, GO TO: HTTPS://WWW.CEOSLEEPOU­T.ORG.AU/CEOS/SA-CEOS/

 ?? Picture: MIKE BURTON ?? HOMELESSNE­SS: It’s a growing problem that’s only going to get worse as charities get stretched.
Picture: MIKE BURTON HOMELESSNE­SS: It’s a growing problem that’s only going to get worse as charities get stretched.
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