Regional communities in NSW are doing it tougher than their city dwelling counterparts. That’s the message from new research mapping social and economic disadvantage across the state released by the New South Wales Council of Social Services (NCOSS) today, echoing Social Futures concerns for the rural and regional communities we support.
With 888,000 people living in poverty in NSW, no community is immune to hardship, but our rural and regional communities are doing it particularly tough explained Chief Executive of Social Futures, Tony Davies.
“While only 30 per cent of the population live outside the metro areas in NSW, our regional communities are home to more than half of the people living in poverty across the state.
“There is a myth that our regional coastal communities in particular are an oasis of paradise but low incomes and high unemployment rates, coupled with high rates of housing stress, mean that many of these communities have significantly higher rates of poverty than the rest of the state. In Nambucca Heads for example, almost 1 in 4 people are living below the poverty line.
“Most concerning, children are the most likely age group to be living in poverty with one in six children live below the poverty line. In some parts of Northern NSW this figure is closer to one in four.
“With many communities facing the additional bite of the drought it has never been more important for government to take real action to address the inequality in regional communities.
“We urgently need the government to invest in social housing, early childhood education and to raise the Newstart Allowance in order to break the cycle of poverty,” he said.
This report provides a detailed picture of the extent of disadvantage across NSW with interactive maps allowing users to explore how poverty impacts people in their region.
Nicole was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in December 2009. She tells her story in her own words:
I went to the doctor because I had three cold fingers and that’s when I got the diagnosis. It was devastating. I was a full-time working mother and it seemed like my world had collapsed.
The MS soon progressed and I was living permanently in a chair. This left me homebound and financially it was a disaster. My husband could only work three days a week on reduced hours so he could look after me. Our combined income was reduced to just $30,000.
I couldn’t afford to ever get out, I couldn’t get a wheelchair, couldn’t see my friends. It was just depressing and that’s what I thought life was going to be like for me from then on. Before too long I developed anxiety.
Then the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) arrived. I had my first meeting with Local Area Coordinator (LAC) Katrina from Social Futures in March 2018 and from that moment my life and my family’s life has changed, out of this world. Just amazing.
With assistance from disability services provider Breakthru I was able to hire transport and a support worker to take me out. My first trip out was to Bunnings – can you believe it? Bunnings! And I loved it!
Everyone gets a break
My friends can now come over and take me out for lunch, I have a support worker so my husband can get a break and play golf once a week. I have a cleaner and my kids don’t have to come and look after me. I can go to physio myself in my new powered wheelchair.
Now I’m just so happy and so shocked all at the same time. The NDIS has been life changing. Before the NDIS I couldn’t afford anything, I was sitting in a chair, I was so depressed. I used to do art therapy, I did it for hours and hours and hours. And I thought, that’s all there was. That’s now my life. And that’s all it’s going to be from now on.
My husband – he had to do everything. He was a man trying to style my hair! Now I have help. And now I have a life. I almost have to have a booking diary I am so busy these days!
The physio has also been great. My legs are a bit better now and she has me up doing a few steps. That has helped with my anxiety too.
I was a barmaid for 26 years, I was a really social person. After my MS diagnosis I didn’t visit the supermarket for years, but the other day I went down in my power chair and it took me hours to do the shopping with all the people stopping me to say hello.
Home modifications approved
I’ve just had home modifications approved for a deck and a ramp so I’ll soon be able to get out my front door for the first time in six years. With help from Reita (my new LAC from Social Futures) I’m going to apply for bathroom and laundry modifications so I can even do laundry. We’re looking into car modifications too so I can get my power chair in the car.
It was a rough start with the NDIS because I didn’t understand it. And letting people into my home and my life was challenging, but it’s been lifesaving.
Now I’m sitting on a cushion that’s helping my pain from sitting all the time and that’s also funded by the NDIS. What can I say, other than I love it.
“My first trip out was to Bunnings – can you believe it? Bunnings! And I loved it!” (Nicole)
Nicole’s NDIS supports have helped her:
Rebuild her social life
Enjoy quality family time
Improve her mobility
Purchase key equipment.
Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community. Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.
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Social Futures is offering a new program called Opportunity Pathways for Rent Choice recipients and social housing clients to help them access education, training and work in the Northern Rivers region.
The program offers flexible, personalised support to people who want to improve their employment options. Participants will have access to pre-employment training, employment support, post-employment support and housing independence services.
This year the Deaf Community will have more access to the Byron Writers Festival, beginning with an Auslan-signed promotional video developed in collaboration with Social Futures’ Far North Coast (FNC) Ability Links.
The video features FNC Ability Links Co-Manager Sigrid Macdonald introducing the event and explaining the Auslan interpreting services that will be available during the festival, which runs from 2-4 August at Elements of Byron Resort. “It’s great to see Byron Writers Festival in the vanguard of public events realising the need to make themselves more accessible to people with disabilities, including members of the Deaf Community like myself,” Sigrid said.
Fight Like A Girl self-defence has come back to B-Space in Ballina for a six-week course starting 23 May 2019. This is a girls’ only class that builds confidence and empowers participants with useful skills in a safe and fun environment.
The course is being taught by Sensei Rachel Whiting, who has over 30 years’ experience teaching martial arts and self-defence. She is passionate about teaching girls the skills they need to keep themselves safe as the situation arises.
… and the impact of the Stolen Generations on all Aboriginal people in Australia. Our thoughts are with our staff, our participants, our wider communities and their loved ones. We remember and honour Elders past, present and those who are yet to come.
Sorry Day has been held annually on 26 Maysince 1998. It provides an important reminder for everyone in Australia to remember the past policies of forced child removal. On Sorry Day we reflect on the sad and painful history of the Stolen Generations and recognise moments of resilience, healing and the power of saying Sorry.
The first Sorry Day was held ten years after the publication of the Bringing Them Home report. However a report on government services, released by the Productivity Commission last year, said there were 17,664 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care in 2016-17, compared with 9,070 in 2007-08. So is sorry enough?