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Devastating spike in Cairns families struggling to survive

Seal Media Group, Australia

According to research from Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) there are 1,565 families on the social housing register in the Cairns Regional Council. The number of families that have had their register assessment documented as ‘high’ or ‘very high’ has increased by 18 per cent in the past year. QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said the Government is not doing enough to solve this issue. “We need all levels – Commonwealth, State and Council – to come together and solve this crisis collectively,” Ms McVeigh said. In four years the number of months people have waited for social housing has doubled from 10.6 months in 2017 to 21.2 months in 2020. “The Australian Government especially must acknowledge its place in addressing the housing needs of Queenslanders.” She said even though the Queensland Government has invested $1.9 billion it was not enough as those funds would only build 234 dwellings in FNQ over the four years, a figure the QCOSS has based on the 1565 families currently on the waitlist. In Cairns there is about 17,606 currently receiving JobSeeker and Youth allowance support payments from June 2021, which has increased since March 2020. “Services like community health, domestic and family violence prevention, community and neighbourhood centres, community housing and disability support organisations, are the backbone of our communities,” Ms McVeigh said. With a rising number of households on the waitlist, Ms McVeigh said that it was important to talk about the local pressures the sector was facing. Ms McVeigh said that these discussions were needed which is why she visited Cairns on Friday to discuss the multiple issues. The QCOSS member workshop discussed the need to invest in local communities and also the strength and resilience of the local people in Cairns currently struggling with the Tourism industry currently leaking jobs. “The pandemic has shown us just how important a liveable income and secure home is to the health of everyone in the community,” Ms McVeigh said. The workshop on Friday had overwhelming support from Cairns stakeholders with more than 20 local organisations attending.

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