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Demand on charities monumental amidst rising cost of living

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By Pam Kiriakidis

AS cost of living expenses continue to skyrocket across the country, Mitchell Shire charities are noticing higher demands for financial help compared to previous years.

Over the 12 months to the March 2023 quarter, the consumer price index, CPI, increased seven per cent.

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported inflation to gas prices between March 2022-23 at 26.2 per cent – the largest rise on record.

The Reserve Bank of Australia increased interests rates to 4.10 per cent last week – the 12th hike since May, 2022 – making it the highest cash rate for the past 11 years.

Both Love In Action Wallan and Broadford branches, who regularly assist struggling families and homeless people with food aid and donations, are experiencing greater requests from families.

Love In Action Wallan president Sarah Brewer said members of community who might have supported the registered charity in the past were now asking for help.

Love in Action Wallan has experienced a sharp increase in demand in 2023, and volunteers are constantly calling for community donations to assist those in need. ​

June and July were expected to be especially tough months for already struggling families due to the cost of heating homes.

“This is the hardest year we’ve ever had, every year we say that but it’s considerably harder than even what it was during COVID,” she said.

“We’re getting requests now from families who have to make choices about where they’re going to find the rest of their money to put their mortgage increase, some of their mortgages are going up from 700 to 1000 a month but their pay hasn’t.”

Throughout the year, Love In Action Wallan hosts timely events and fundraisers as well as accepts community grants that contribute to improving people’s financial situations.

With food at the top of their list of needs, Ms Brewer said the demand for help boosted the amount of work hours for volunteers and fundraising efforts. 

“We’ve increased our fundraising efforts and our volunteers are working harder than they ever worked before,” she said.

“In the past, they might have got one or two or three calls every couple of days, now it seems like every day we’re getting asked to help. Our volunteers are working seven days a week at the moment.”

At the Broadford branch, volunteer Barbara Radford said the demand had ‘slowly increased’, now providing food to 30 families per week who were struggling with rent, power, and gas. 

“Our idea is if we are able to provide some food and toiletries, we can help alleviate costs and allow them more money for their bills,” she said. 

“We emphasise that their rent is paid immediately even though it is becoming more difficult as rents have risen greatly. Once you lose a house it is virtually impossible to get another one.”

Ms Radford said Love In Action was appreciative of community residents donating food, toiletries and pet food, as those few items were not supplied through the foodbank.

“When they first started, they handed out basic food items … and then we found out over time, we’ve had requests for other basics such as toilet paper, kitchen paper, dishwashing liquid and washing powder – as these are family needs as well,” she said.

For more information, visit the Love In Action Wallan Facebook page at www.facebook.com/loveinactionwallan or join the Love In Action Broadford Community Group on Facebook.

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