STRUGGLING people on the Border are going without food, medication and other necessary items to pay power bills and rent as the cost of electricity rises.
St David’s Uniting Care financial counsellor Kaily Goodsell is familiar with their problems.
“We can’t stop what is already in place but the price of essential services should not increase more than the consumer price index,” Mrs Goodsell said.
“The scary thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight.
“We are booked out until the start of September with those seeking financial help.”
Mrs Goodsell said people were finding they had to make choices every week whether they could afford to buy medications, food and other necessary items.
“We have at least one incident a week where a client’s power has been disconnected,” she said.
A forum organised by Housing Homelessness and Human Services (Triple H) in Albury next month will seek to advise welfare agencies and service providers how to help those hit by ever-rising heating and electricity bills.
Gavin Dufty, of St Vincent de Paul in Melbourne, will address the forum, drawing on his experience producing many reports focusing on the cost of living, with a particular emphasis on energy.
The big questions financial counsellors want answered is how much can electricity prices rise and what can be put in place to protect the most vulnerable?
Triple H chairwoman Denise Osborne, who works for the NSW Department of Housing, said it was not uncommon for people to have to set aside about $35 a week to cover the cost of electricity and gas.
“That equates to about $400 a quarter but some people are getting far more expensive bills than that, some upwards of $800,” she said.
Mrs Osborne said rising power bills had enormous impacts on the ability of tenants to sustain their tenancies.
The forum will be held on September 9 at Albury Council’s Robert Brown Room.