HEADS of state and national Catholic welfare agencies have issued grim warnings on the impact of ongoing interest rate rises on vulnerable sections of society.
They have spoken of increased homelessness, new depths of debt and poverty, and of the increasing numbers of the “middle class poor”.
Queensland St Vincent de Paul Society president John Campbell said the latest increase would push many struggling to survive financially “over the edge”.
He also warned families to look closely at Christmas expenditure as there were indications the situation was only going to worsen.
Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) executive director Frank Quinlan has called on the Government to look at special provisions to ensure the disadvantaged are not left behind despite what many describe as the current “buoyant economy”.
Their warnings came following this month’s interest rate increase to 6.75 per cent, an 11-year high, adding about $50 to the monthly repayments on a $300,000 mortgage.
The Reserve Bank also signalled that there could be further rate rises in the pipeline, possibly as early as next month.
That warning applies regardless of who wins the November 24 federal election.
Mr Campbell and Mr Quinlan agreed that those particularly at risk included single mothers with school children, young married couples with large mortgages, aged pensioners paying rent and those living in boarding houses.
Mr Campbell was concern that the latest rise would “push people over the edge.”
Mr Campbell said St Vincent de Paul was having to provide increasing amounts of rental support to struggling families and individuals.
Mr Quinlan said that Government needed to look at special provisions to ensure that those on low incomes were not left behind.
“Many people are having to choose between food, rent and other basics,”