Susan King - Anglicare Sydney: Meeting the immediate needs of vulnerable communities

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Information about Susan King - Anglicare Sydney: Meeting the immediate needs of vulnerable...

Published on March 4, 2014

Author: informaoz



Sue King, Research and Policy Manager, Anglicare Sydney delivered this presentation at the 2014 National Emergency Relief Summit in Sydney/Australia. The two day conference assessed the current systems around service delivery and the challenges that arise around services dedicated to providing material and financial aid, employment, food, housing, addiction relief, transport help and domestic violence support. For more information about the event, please visit the conference website

MEETING THE NEEDS OF VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES Juggling essentials: housing, food and energy? Sue King: ANGLICARE Sydney

Housing insecurity and rental stress Housing Rising energy prices Essential Choices Heating and Cooking Food Insecurity Food

Essential Item 1: Housing Tenure type Percentage Private Rental 37% Public Rental 39% Home Owner 4% Home being purchased 5% Insecure Housing 15% Other 0% Total 100% Source: ANGLICARE Sydney ER database, Percentages based on 32,311 cases Boarding houses, refuges, on the street, in cars, squats, hotel/motels or couch surfing with relatives and friends.

Essential Item 1: Housing  of the 12,880 properties available for private rental in Greater Sydney on 13 – 14 April, only 23 properties were affordable and appropriate for households on income support payments without placing them in rental stress.  The report found there were no suitable properties for single people on Youth Allowance or Newstart.

Essential Item 1: Housing There were few suitable properties available for other household types, including:  singles on the Aged Pension (5 properties)  single parents on the Parenting Payment with two children (2 properties)  couples with children on Newstart (2 properties) and  people on Disability Support (2 properties).  Couples receiving the Aged Pension had the greatest number of suitable properties available to them – 19 across Sydney.

Essential Item 1: Housing  In our ER data we have found that 54% of our clients experience rental stress where they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.  Disturbingly one in three (32%) spend more than 45% of their household income on rent. 

Housing insecurity and rental stress Housing Insecure Rising utility prices Essential Choices Heating and Cooking Food Insecurity Food

Essential Item 2: Food  Food insecurity occurs when people do not have access to readily available, safe and nutritious food.  In March 2012 a national network of Anglicare agencies participated in a joint research study, deploying an internationally recognised survey tool, the Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM) originating from the US.  Over a six week period, a total of 590 people accessing emergency relief services were interviewed at 63 sites in all states.

Essential Item 2: Food  The overwhelming majority of adult respondents (96%) experienced some form of food insecurity  three out of four of all respondents (76%) were severely food insecure.  Between one-third and a half of respondents were experiencing food insecurity almost every week.  The most intense levels of food insecurity were experienced by nearly a third of the sample (31%), was severely food insecure almost every week.

Essential Item 2: Food  For adults in these households there was anxiety about running out of food (83%) and  For three out of four adults (76%) this was a lived experience since they had run out of food in the last three months and could not afford to buy more.  As a result a number of adults (73%) were cutting the size of their meals or skipping meals (62%).  For 61% of adults there was hunger and one in three adults (37%) regularly did not eat for a whole day.

Essential Item 2: Food and children  The majority of households had to compromise the quality of their children’s food, with 85% feeding children only a few kinds of low cost food and 78% limiting the variety of food their children ate.  In over half the households (52%) children were not eating enough and in 39% of households children were reported as going hungry

Essential Item 2: Food and children  46% of households with children had to cut their children’s meal portions and in 24% of households with children the children had to skip a meal at least once.  In 10% of households with children, the children had gone an entire day without eating in the last three months. In 7.3% of households with children this occurred either weekly or some weeks but not every week.

It doesn’t really affect me. I don’t worry if I don’t eat – I just worry if the kids don’t eat. the kids would drive me up the wall 'cos they're starving!. The school wants to know why the kids are hungry...It’s embarrassing. He’s come home with black eyes 'cos he's the poor kid. Sometimes my daughter will come home from school and want to have her friends over but I can't feed them snacks

Housing insecurity, homelessness and rental affordability Housing Insecure Rising utility prices Essential Choices Heating and Cooking Food Insecurity Food

Essential Item 3: Utilities – why an issue?  For low income households energy costs represent a higher proportion of income than for other Australians  difficulty in reducing their carbon footprint if they have large families or have someone in the household with a disability.  Inadequacy of income can make electricity appear to be a discretionary item – like food

Essential Item 3: Utilities – why an issue?  Electricity tariffs and their significant rise over the last four years have made energy for some households largely unaffordable  Poor quality housing stock can result in less efficient energy usage among low income households  Energy efficient white goods are often expensive and households cannot afford to replace older less efficient appliances

What are the linkages?  The common thread linking the ability to afford adequate housing, appropriate food and access to suitable utilities is that of low income.  If households have low incomes, then they will be struggling in the rental market experiencing rental stress and spending more and more of their income to sustain tenancy. This leaves less discretionary income for food and electricity since shelter has priority.

Low income is a common factor between housing insecurity, food insecurity and unaffordable utilities Total Income before Rent Disposable income at 30% Rental Snapshot Properties available Disposable income at 45% Rental Snapshot Properties available Change to Disposable Income Couple, 2 children, Newstart $737 $516 14 $405 462 -$111 Single, 2 children, one less than 8, Single Parenting Payment $656 $459 4 $361 265 -$98 Single, one child over 8 $476 $333 0 $262 10 -$71 Single person on Newstart $310 $217 0 $171 5 -$47 Household Type

Housing Insecure Low income Lack of utilities Food insecure

Solutions from a service perspective  establishing a comprehensive data capture across all our sites  Using dedicated research to interrogate this data to give us clear and effective advocacy  Shifting to case management to deal with more complex cases  Developing an integrated service delivery model to streamline service delivery.

Solutions from a service perspective : ISD  Emergency Relief (Liverpool)  No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) – Liverpool office  Family Support– Sadleir office  Financial Counselling – including advocacy and support for dealing with credit card and debt issues – Liverpool office  Step Up– Liverpool office

ER Financial counselling NILS Liverpool Site Step Up Family Services Sadleir Site

Does ISD work? For clients? Data item Not at all A little bit Quite a bit A lot Before 2% 18% 8% 71% After 24% 58% 12% 6% Before 52% 26% 9% 13% After 0% 12% 28% 60% Before 28% 51% 13% 9% After 2% 14% 33% 51% Confident about parenting Before 9% 39% 24% 28% Hopeful about the future After Before 2% 19% 4% 43% 30% 9% 64% 23% After 4% 6% 20% 68% Stressed Aware of my options Able to cope if problems arise

Does ISD work? For staff? In your opinion, have the following practices changed since the introduction of ISD? Much more often More often No real change Less often Much less often Response Count Staff respond to the client’s needs even when the need isn’t directly related to their role 7 3 2 0 0 12 Staff help clients out beyond the first problems presented 8 4 0 0 0 12 Staff ‘pass the buck’ to other staff 1 0 2 4 5 12 Staff have sufficient time to listen to clients and to understand their needs 4 5 3 0 0 12 Staff say ‘I’ll find out’ rather than ‘I don’t know’ 5 7 0 0 0 12 Staff see clients as people rather than problems 4 4 3 1 0 12 Staff are careful not to reinforce dependent relationships between clients and other programs in ISD 2 7 3 0 0 12

Poor housing Low income Lack of utilities Food insecure

CONCLUSION Learn Build Share Improve Collaborate Innovate

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