LEFT: Fiona Mullins and Cherrie Hughes offer support by adding to the Stand Against Poverty art installation.
LEFT: Fiona Mullins and Cherrie Hughes offer support by adding to the Stand Against Poverty art installation. Lee Constable

Mining downturn forcing more to turn to charities

AN ALARMING number of people have sought help from charities as a result of financial difficulty in the face of the mining downturn.

The Salvation Army reported reaching out to 1300 families in the past 12 months. This is a 30% increase on the previous year.

Salvation Army emergency relief worker Amanda Greham said more than one-third of people seeking help had never used a welfare agency in the past.

"The poverty line is the point when people can't afford food, after paying all of their bills," Mrs Greham said.

"There are a lot of people in Mackay who live below the poverty line."

The mining downturn was a huge factor, she said.

"At the moment, with everyone being made unemployed, we have lots of clients who receive no income whatsoever."

Mackay Regional Council held a Stand Against Poverty awareness campaign on the council lawns yesterday.

Domestic Violence Resource Service worker Cherrie Hughes attached a message of support, written on a hand-shaped cut-out, to one of the cardboard silhouettes featured in an art installation created for the event.

"Some women are forced to live with financial hardship as a result of leaving an abusive partner," Ms Hughes said. "On the other hand, some women choose to stay in an abusive relationship to avoid living in poverty with their children.

"Poverty comes in different forms but is a real problem in Mackay."

Mrs Greham said there was no shame in reaching out for help.

"Just because people drive a nice car doesn't mean they can't get help," she said. "If people lose their job, they can't make their repayments."

For help or more information phone the 24-hour Salvation Army Care Line on 1300 36 36 22.



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