Organisations offering emergency relief to those in need are experiencing a surge in people seeking help, as the coronavirus pandemic leaves workers with reduced hours or no job at all.
Bendigo Family and Financial Services general manager Jenny Elvey said the organisation had seen an increase in new clients looking for assistance, with presentations up about 15 per cent this month compared to the same time in February.
With workers losing hours or being let go from jobs, Ms Elvey said she expected to see more people seeking financial counselling in the near future.
Julie Roberts, the team leader at Uniting's Forest Street Emergency Relief Centre, also said there were a lot of people looking for help because their work had dropped off.
The shortage of food and other items in supermarkets has also driven people to such organisations.
"They come to us because they can't get the staples," Miss Roberts said.
St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria north east central president Barb Anglin said the Bendigo Assistance Centre was taking about 25 calls for support each day, and expected that number to rise.
The lack of goods in supemarkets has also affected these services.
Both Ms Elvey and Miss Roberts said their organisations bought their emergency provisions in bulk from the supermarkets, but had been unable to do so in recent times.
"We're struggling a little bit in what we're able to give out," Ms Elvey said.
Bendigo Family and Financial Services' doors remained open on Monday, but Ms Elvey said the organisation could move to a closed service, with help provided over the phone.
Vinnies has already closed its face-to-face services.
"Last week we closed our Bendigo Assistance Centre, and we are no longer entering people's homes, but our volunteers are responding to the need by adapting the service delivering support to people in need through phone calls and via the mail box or at the doorstep delivering food vouchers and other assistance to people in the area wherever possible," Ms Anglin said.
"More importantly, perhaps, is that we are still offering a listening ear over the phone."
Ms Elvey said support for small business was essential to the wellbeing of the wider community, especially in regional towns.
"I think small business has got to be looked after, because if they're not looked after, there'll be a lot of people out of work who won't have anything to go back to," she said.
These include expanded eligibility for income support, a new supplement of $550 a fortnight for payment recipients, two payments of $750 for social security, veteran and other income support recipients, and eligible concession card holders, release of superannuation, and payments for small and medium-sized business to employ people.
People with excess non-perishable items can contact their local emergency relief services to donate.
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