CLOSE to half a million Queenslanders are living in poverty, new statistics from the St Vincent de Paul Society reveal.
On the cusp of its Winter Appeal launch, Vinnies’ Queensland state president Dennis Innes said the effects of poverty were becoming far-reaching in the state, causing an epidemic of loneliness and isolation.
“For too many Queenslanders, poverty is leading to extreme loneliness and sadness,” Mr Innes said. “For many older Australians struggling to make ends meet leaves them feeling like they have been forgotten.”
The report found that 190,000 Queensland households are in rental stress, meaning they are spending more than 30 per cent of their income just to keep a roof over their head.
“Many of these are older women, who are fast becoming one of the groups most vulnerable to homelessness,” Mr Innes said.
“When people are spending such a large portion of their income on rent, it means less money for bills, less money for food, clothing and other essential items.
“Struggling like this leads people who are already feeling lonely and depressed to shiver through the winter, fearful that a large power bill could push them over the edge into homelessness.
“When people are struggling they turn to Vinnies for help.
“We will always be there for them but we can’t do it alone, we need the public’s support this winter.”
Mr Innes said loneliness could not be solved by money alone.
“Assistance with food and financial support to help with bills and rent can ease the stress and anxiety people face, while Vinnies volunteers help alleviate the feeling of isolation poverty creates,” he said. “Our Vinnies volunteer members have already assisted more than 80,000 Queenslanders so far in 2019.
“They visit in pairs with people in their own homes and provide vital companionship to many who are vulnerable and struggling.
“There are thousands of elderly Queenslanders living in the pain that poverty causes; each day of their life is defined by loss and loneliness, with nothing to look forward to.
“But we have the power to change this.
“Winter is a very difficult time of year if you are homeless or you can’t pay for your heating or other essentials.
“We rely on generous donations from the community to our Winter Appeal each year to help people in need.”