Poverty persists

POVERTY: From left, Labor MLC Irene Pnevmatikos, Labor MLC Justin Hanson, Liberal MLC Terry Stephens, Greens MLC Tammy Franks and SA-BEST MLC Frank Pangallo visited Food Bank on Thursday.
POVERTY: From left, Labor MLC Irene Pnevmatikos, Labor MLC Justin Hanson, Liberal MLC Terry Stephens, Greens MLC Tammy Franks and SA-BEST MLC Frank Pangallo visited Food Bank on Thursday.

As poverty continues to be a serious issue in both metropolitan and regional areas, a Poverty Committee from the Legislative Council were in Whyalla on Thursday to host an inquiry into the issue.

Greens MLC and Poverty Committee Chairperson Tammy Franks was joined by Labor MLC Irene Pnevmatikos, Labor MLC Justin Hanson, Liberal MLC Terry Stephens and SA-BEST MLC Frank Pangallo to listen to locals concerns about poverty.

Ms Franks said the council received over 60 submissions about poverty from both individuals and organisations.

Some of those organisations included the Unemployed Workers Union, Plaza Youth Centre, Aboriginal Health Service and the Whyalla Ripples Support Group. Local Member Eddie Hughes also presented.

“It’s just not acceptable that people are living in poverty in 2018,” Ms Franks said.

“Poverty has a lot of implications for people’s health, their general mental health as well as physical health. People are going hungry, unable to access employment, and living day-to-day.”

Ms Franks acknowledged that poverty was an ‘incredibly complex’ issue.

“As a committee we’re not going to have one solution that fixes all the problems, but what we want to do is support those community groups who are trying to change this,” Ms Franks said.

One of the other contributing factors to the issue of homelessness was drug addiction, which came up ‘time and time again’ during the inquiry.

“It really is a growing issue in terms of methamphetamine. That particular drug creates aggression and can lead to other addictions such as gambling,” Ms Franks said.

“It’s causing family breakdown, putting stress of grandparents who have to care for grandchildren.”

Ms Pnevmatikos highlighted unemployment as another contributing factor to poverty, saying it was one of a number of issues which created a ‘spiraling effect’.

Mr Hanson said evidence presented at the inquiry suggested that some residents in Whyalla don’t have enough money to either eat properly or even eat at all.

In support of those people, Food Bank Whyalla will be sending out Christmas hampers, with 1 in 12 families expected to receive them locally.

“That’s fairly indicative of the wider problem that’s going on,” Mr Hanson said.

Mr Stephen said Food Bank would need more volunteer support to help get food out into the community.

“Whyalla’s always been a great volunteer community, so it would be fabulous to see people step up and help out,” he said.

In the meantime Food Bank are applying for a $10 million grant to keep their services going, with Mr Pangallo saying it’s important for governments to recognise the amount of work they do.