Two million Australians live in poverty and are struggling to access necessities such as a ordable housing and food.
We know that poverty, relative deprivation and social exclusion all have a major impact on health and premature death, and we also know that the chances of living in poverty are loaded heavily against some social groups.
Being excluded from the life of society and treated as less than equal leads to worse health and greater risks of premature death. Social exclusion can result from poverty, racism, discrimination, stigmatisation, hostility and unemployment. These processes prevent people from participating in education or training, and gaining access to services and citizenship activities. They are socially and psychologically damaging, materially costly, and harmful to health.
Poverty and social exclusion increase the risks of divorce and separation, disability, illness, addic- tion and social isolation and vice versa, forming vicious circles that deepen the predicament peo- ple face. And at the end of the circle, socially isolated people die at two or three times the rate of people with a network of social relationships.
Many seniors are going hungry. One in 8 older people say they don’t have enough to eat, a study has found.
We have also experienced a dramatic increase in the number of people who approach our agency regarding possible homelessness.
Melbourne and indeed Victoria are experiencing a housing a ordability crisis. The real victims of this crisis are increasingly becoming the forgotten Victorians. They are single people of all ages, sole parents and low income families. We can do little to assist these families other than provide information regarding our nancial counselling service, budgeting, advocacy, and limited nancial assistance.
At a recent volunteers meeting I was asked, “Have things changed since the CAB came to Dingley Village in 1983?” I had to hesitate! But I do believe ……
“We make a difference!”
Marion Harriden OAM Social Worker