by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
SSC Newspaper : August 2012
payments and support from charities, but says the money barely puts food on the table. “I get $616 a fortnight from Centrelink but my rent costs $320 a week so there is barely any money left for food and electricity,” he says. “If places such as St Vincent de Paul didn’t exist, there would be many in the community who would be worse off.” hand out electricity vouchers to residents who struggle to make their payments, such as Homebush West resident, Wayne Dunn. Dunn, 51, was made redundant from his job at the end of 2011. He has actively been seeking a job but, due to a competitive market, is unable to find any work. Dunn relies on Centrelink Strathfield SnapShot Total number of dwellings in Strathfield.....................12,722 Average people per household .........................................2.9 Median weekly household income ..............................$1421 Median monthly mortgage repayments ......................$2195 Median weekly rent .........................................................$400 Average motor vehicles per dwelling ...............................1.5 By Bernadette Chua A woman and her teenage son were recently found sleeping in their car at Strathfield Park. Their reason: spiraling household costs had driven the mother from her home. An apocryphal story? Not according to Deputy Mayor Cr Helen McLucas, who raised the issue of poverty at a council meeting in July, asking for a report on the situation. According to Cr McLucas, rising utility and food costs have driven some families to desperate measures. “Many people might be ashamed but we need to do something,” she says. By any measure, Strathfield is a wealthy area. The latest Census information shows our median weekly household income is $1421 – $200 higher than the rest of NSW, and five per cent more of our families than the state’s average bring in $3000 per week . We have an average of 1.5 vehicles per household and our houses are worth an average of $1.4 million. But there is an underlying problem – a tale of two very different Strathfields. The average rent is $400, 25 per cent more than the rest of the state and 30 per cent higher than the rest of Australia. And 16 per cent of our households pay more than 30 per cent of their income in rent, almost seven per cent higher than the rest of the country. And those under financial stress are being squeezed. The number of boarding houses is dropping and the area already has one of the lowest rates of shared housing in the inner west. According to the NSW Department of Housing , boarding house accommodation is declining at the rate of seven to eight per cent per year. The 2001 census revealed that Strathfield has lowest rate of single bedrooms homes in the inner west. In Strathfield, only seven per cent of dwellings in the private rental market are one bedroom, while in Leichhardt that figure is close to 30 per cent. Couple that with the increased costs of heating and warm food and clothing in winter, and you have a potential problem. But how big is it? And what are we doing to help? Most Strathfield residents probably have the perception that stories of homelessness and struggle only happen to people in the western suburbs or the inner city area. Luckily there are local community groups such as the Wesley Mission and St Vincent de Paul, which provide accommodation, food hampers and utility vouchers. President of St Vincent de Paul Gil Vella has a team of around 15 volunteers who answer pleas for help from the local community – they visit families or individuals and make an assessment of what is needed. Vella says that with the increasing cost of living, which includes food but particularly electricity, is having an effect. He is finding more and more families are putting in calls to St Vincent de Paul. He estimates he gets up anywhere from five to 20 calls a week. But the donations they receive and the funding from the government is not enough to cover the help the organisation gives out. “It varies from week to week,” he says. “The requests can vary from food hampers to utility vouchers or even just someone to talk to.” “ We are mainly government funded but we do receive donations from the community. Still, it’s not enough to cover costs.” Vella is adamant that St Vincent de Paul does not provide handouts but a helping hand. He says the system doesn’t work for people who require ongoing help. Rather, it’s designed for emergencies. “St Vincent de Paul has to work with other programs and charities so we can provide long-term solutions for people,” Vella says. “ We’ ll refer cases to different places if we can’t help them. But it’s just not enough. We need extra help.” Vella makes up food hampers which consist of the bare essentials such as tea, coffee, sugar, milk and canned goods. St Vincent de Paul also Strathfield Scene 13 www.ourstrathfield.com.au the big issue “If places such as St Vincent de Paul didn’t exist, there would be many in the community who would be worse off.” Down and out in Strathfield the hidden pain of poverty