Poverty: Regional area has higher disadvantage than NSW average

DISADVANTAGED: Around 6700 people in this region are living below the poverty line, a new report from the NSW Council of Social Service shows. Photo: FILE
DISADVANTAGED: Around 6700 people in this region are living below the poverty line, a new report from the NSW Council of Social Service shows. Photo: FILE

POVERTY rates in the region are higher than the NSW average with around 6700 people lacking the disposable income for an "acceptable standard of living".

Economic disadvantage is widespread in NSW and despite the state's strong economy and abundant resources many people are struggling, new data shows.

All but one location in the region have higher levels of poverty rates compared to the state average of 13.3 per cent, a new report from the NSW Council of Social Service shows.

Young leads the way with 18.1 per cent (or 1700 people) of residents living below the poverty line, this is followed by Grenfell at 16.1 per cent (500 people) and Cowra at 15.2 per cent (1200 people).

Parkes was 15.0 per cent (1400), Forbes was 13.5 per cent (1100), while Cootamundra's rate of 12.8 per cent (800 people) was better off than the NSW average.

Cowra Salvation Army Major Cathryn Williamson was not surprised by the data and said there was a lack of jobs in the region.

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She said the lack of a job, or under employment, often starts a cycle of disadvantage with many people then not able to afford housing, bills, groceries and petrol for their car.

Lately, Major Williamson has assisted people with food parcels, rent and energy bills. She's also helped a man who reported that he hadn't eaten meat in two months because he couldn't afford it.

"There's a housing shortage and then they'll go and see the Department of Housing who can't do much because there's no housing available," she said.

There's a housing shortage and then they'll go and see the Department of Housing who can't do much because there's no housing available.

Salvation Army Major Cathryn Williamson

"Add kids to that mix and then the kids become disadvantaged. They'll miss out on all the [school] excursions and the extra curricular activities because they can't afford it."

St Vincent de Paul Central West's acting north west regional director Phil Donnan said during the past financial year Vinnies had provided more than $2.2 million in assistance in this region.

"Two-thirds of those people sought assistance due to a lack of food [across the whole state 51 per cent of people sought assistance for food], while pressure with energy bills and the impact of drought has also seen a demand for our support," he said.

Mr Donnan urged anyone struggling with economic disadvantage to get in touch with Vinnies stores located in Cowra, Forbes, Parkes, Young and Cootamundra.

"We offer a range of services such as providing food parcels, finding accommodation for people at risk of homelessness and energy assistance."

Call the Salvation Army Emergency Relief Assistance Line for help with food, travel, water, phone, rates or clothing on 1300 371 288.

Contact Vinnies by calling 13 18 12.

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This story Region's poverty rates are higher than the NSW average first appeared on Cowra Guardian.