Lack of jobs fuels poverty in Bendigo

THE lack of jobs for unskilled workers has been cited by experts as a reason for the amount of Bendigo residents living under the poverty line.

Statistics released by the Australian Council of Social Services in its Poverty in Australia report show more than 30 per cent of people living under the poverty line are in either full-time or part- time work. Reports released by the City of Greater Bendigo put 25.4 per cent of Greater Bendigo residents in the low income bracket, earning less $600 per week.

Kangaroo Flat Community House co-ordinator Elaine McNamara said the current situation for families was the most desperate she had seen in 12 years at the organisation.

“I know around this area everyone is feeling the pinch. 

“A good 20 per cent of this area could be affected and under the poverty line.”

Ms McNamara said a lack of jobs for unskilled workers was a direct factor in the cycle of poverty seen around the area.

“There are no jobs for the labourer or the unqualified worker,” she said.

“Surely we must be able to have some work that they can participate in, other than sitting at home and not being able to get a job. 

“I think they genuinely want to work. There’ll always be a percentage that doesn’t but I think that percentage is very low.” St Luke’s Anglicare social policy and advocacy manager Leah Galvin said there was a growing amount of people using emergency relief who were in employment.

“When I was studying 10 years ago, nobody using emergency relief was in jobs,” she said.

Federal Labor candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said the amount of people currently working but living under the poverty line was “shocking”.

“We have people wanting to work but they can’t get the hours.” 

Ms Chesters said encouraging people to train and study was the key to breaking the cycle of poverty through increasing accessibility to TAFE and raising Centrelink’s Newstart allowance.

“It’s important that we keep offering people opportunity to up skill and that is why the Victorian government’s TAFE cuts are so disappointing, particularly in Bendigo,” she said. 

“If we want to have people to get a job we have to support them through study and I agree people can’t really do that on the current rate.”

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