Demand for help increases – income does not

The fifth AnglicareSA Turn Away Census has highlighted two areas of major unmet need in the community – emergency assistance and housing assistance – the same two areas found to be in greatest need in June 2009, February 2010 and September 2010 censuses.

AnglicareSA CEO Dr Lynn Arnold says it is clear from the information presented in the census, that despite the hard work, commitment and effort of AnglicareSA staff and volunteers, and that of other organisations which work to support and empower the most vulnerable people in the community, there is still a great deal of unmet need across the board.

“Although the Turn Away Census is not a definitive measure of the level of need across the community, it is useful in providing an indication of the areas and levels of need that are not currently being met in the communities where AnglicareSA is already working,” Dr Arnold said.

Dr Arnold said the census report shows the pressure on families and individuals was increasing as the cost of living increased.

“There is only so much money to spend and incomes are not increasing at the same level as other costs,” he said. “That is why we need people who can afford it to donate and help us to help others who are struggling.”

Dr Arnold called on government to review and increase income support payments. “Those on low income will continue to struggle to pay the bills and feed and clothe their families. They may cut back on essentials such as food, dental health and visits to the doctor, because they simply can’t afford it.

“People are turning to organisations like AnglicareSA more and more for everyday assistance.  Families have no spare cash for a sudden disaster such as car repairs or the fridge breaking down,” Dr Arnold said.

“Families on low income suffer pressure points all around. It is not easy to give advice on how to spend money they don’t have.”

Census results:

Through the week of 28 March-1 April 2011, 44 programs took part in the census recording all people who requested assistance from AnglicareSA but who were turned away without receiving the service they asked for.

While 19 programs across 12 sites reported being able to meet all demand for services throughout the census week, 343 people were turned away from services in the week (an increase of 145 from the 2010 census).

Most clients who were turned away rarely left without some assistance and were usually referred onto other forms of immediate relief and services. Some programs found the only durable form of addressing client need was by building capacity through services wrapped around immediate emergency responses.

The census showed three main reasons for people being turned away from services:

  • Clients were ineligible for the service they requested
  • Clients were above the annual allocation for that service
  • The centre was under resourced or the service was full.

During the week of the census 82 people seeking housing assistance were turned away.

  • 28 people were eligible for the service but it was already full
  • 15 were not eligible
  • 39 turned away for other unspecified reasons.

During the same week 135 people requesting emergency assistance were turned away

  • 98 because the service/quota was full
  • 15 were not eligible
  • 13 asked at sites that do not provide this service
  • the rest were turned away for other unspecified reasons

For more information or interviews please contact Jenny Barrett on (08) 8305 9301 or 0408 717 025.