A YOUNG couple feared they may be evicted from their Mount Gambier home before approaching ac.care for support.
They have spoken about how emergency relief and financial counselling provided by the regional agency kept them in their home and provided hope for a better future.
Lisa, aged 21, said winding back of the coronavirus supplement reduced her JobSeeker payment from close to $800 per fortnight at the peak of the pandemic back to under $600 at the start of 2021, with a $520 per fortnight rent bill.
“With all the other costs of living, it’s really difficult, especially not knowing how much some bills might be until they arrive, so we did struggle for a while, but did our best to make it work,” she explained.
The couple managed to get by with Tristan, 22, receiving a disability pension and working some part-time hours.
“But when we continued to struggle, we asked ac.care for help to get back on track to where we needed to be with rent,” Lisa explained.
“It was amazing what they were able to do – it felt great and I thanked (support worker) Melanie a fair few times – she was an awesome help.”
Lisa said she and Tristan were made to feel welcomed by staff.
“Melanie was very friendly and made us feel calm and not stressed or embarrassed or anything about going in there asking for help,” she said.
“The staff there are amazing with their hospitality and everything.”
A family member recommended Lisa and Tristan seek support from ac.care.
“She mentioned that if we were struggling, ac.care was there to help and Tristan agreed that we did need support,” Lisa said.
The couple encouraged other people to seek assistance if they were struggling to maintain their finances.
“People need to ask for help occasionally and that’s why places like ac.care are there – if people are struggling like we were with bills and rent, I’d definitely recommend ac.care,” Lisa said.
“Don’t say no to anyone trying to help you – just go with it,” Tristan added.
“But when we continued to struggle, we asked ac.care for help to get back on track to where we needed to be with rent … It was amazing what they were able to do – it felt great and I thanked (support worker) Melanie a fair few times – she was an awesome help.”
– ac.care client Lisa
Lisa said it was “scary” considering the couple may have been evicted as a “worst case scenario” if not for the support of ac.care.
“We were hoping that we wouldn’t get evicted because we didn’t know what we would do and its great we didn’t have to in the end,” Lisa said, adding that limited options on Mount Gambier’s rental market and competition for the properties that were available made the prospects of being homeless more daunting.
She is now studying at SA TAFE in the hope of securing full-time work in the childcare sector.
But in the meantime, Lisa is concerned the latest cut of the $150 coronavirus supplement at the end of March at the same time as the ongoing JobSeeker base rate was increased by just $50 per fortnight, would add further pressure for many people.
“Reducing the amount people on JobSeeker are receiving again has just made it more difficult … almost impossible,” Lisa said.
ac.care continues to support sector-wide campaigns to permanently increase the JobSeeker rate to lift people out of poverty and provide Australians who are out of work with a liveable income.
The Limestone Coast, Riverland and Murraylands homelessness services are operated by ac.care, which can provide diverse support to country people across eastern regional South Australia.
For details, visit accare.org.au, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 ACCARE (1300 222 273).
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