The Christmas season is shaping up as one of extreme financial hardship for many families, while an increasing number of people are being forced into homelessness, the Catholic Leader reports.
As the St Vincent de Paul Society launches its annual Christmas Appeal, the organisation is predicting the next few weeks will be tougher than ever before for people in need.
“Certainly (there is) going to be a lot of stress around Christmas. There won’t even be enough money in some cases to have a family get-together or put festive goodies on the table for the family and kids,” St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland state president John Forrest said.
“Sadly, 2018 looks no better, with increasing numbers of everyday Queenslanders marginalised by disadvantage.
“Our volunteers and staff are seeing people without accommodation consigned to living in their cars before Christmas has even started.
“Unfortunately some have left it too late to call us before becoming homeless and we’re working hard right up to Christmas to get them back into emergency or affordable housing.
“Sky-high bills for electricity and gas have spilled over from the winter period (and) are still unpaid, so, as we head into summer, services get cut off and this exacerbates their problems even further.”
In one of the worst-hit regions, the Sunshine Coast, an estimated 1000 people sleep rough each night.
It’s a snapshot of the nation – with the latest homeless figure standing at 105,000 each night.
“We may never know the real extent of homelessness,” Nambour’s Annette Baker, recently named The Catholic Leader’s Community Leader of the Year, and a board member of Vinnies Housing.
For Mrs Baker, one of the underlying reasons more families, single parents and older women – one of the most vulnerable groups – are being forced to the margins is because of a lack of affordable housing.