QCOSS held a critical meeting with social services in Cairns on Thursday May 9 against the backdrop of data that demonstrates the increasing cost of living pressures.

Data from specialist homelessness services indicates that homelessness in regional Queensland has risen by 29 per cent since 2017, compared to only 8 per cent across Australia.

Analysis of Infoxchange data demonstrates that families relying on food handouts have increased by 18 per cent in one year.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh says that, while troubling, this data is hardly surprising.

“Our services in Cairns are telling us that young people are being turned away from crucial homelessness help and residents are setting up semi-permanent homes in crisis hotel and motel accommodation.”

Anglicare North Queensland has reported that they were unable to assist over 500 requests for specialist youth homelessness accommodation this financial year because rental vacancies have dried up.

“We are hiding a big problem. Putting families in crisis hotel, or motel accommodation comes with no security of tenure, so if at any time these hotels decide to go and chase the tourism market or peak holiday season, these families might have to move out because the rent goes up,” Anglicare North Queensland Executive Manager Evan Martin said today.

Cost of living pressures have also been linked to money-related conflict in relationships, sparking an increase in family violence.

Relationships Australia regional manager Alisha Lyncoln says their service is working with families living in situations that are conducive to conflict.

“We’re seeing multiple generations of families being forced to live under one hot, overcrowded roof to save on rent leading to increased family conflict, domestic and family violence, and poor mental health,” Ms Lyncoln said.

Frontline workers in Cairns are also feeling the crunch of the dual cost of living and housing crisis.

According to the Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Report, Social and Community service workers can only afford 2% of the available rental properties in Cairns, while only one per cent of the local market is affordable to early childhood workers,

QCOSS, Anglicare NQ and Relationships Australia are part of a coalition of 14 community organisations leading the Make Queensland Fair campaign, which is seeking commitments during this election year for a fair share of the state’s prosperity for all Queenslanders.

“Cost of living pressures are being felt acutely in Cairns and we are taking every opportunity to listen to our workforce. They are literally at the coalface, seeing the desperate situation so many people are facing.”

“Last year the Queensland Government delivered a $14 billion-dollar surplus. The highest of any state or territory. This should be enough for all of us, but as our state gets richer, more and more Queenslanders can’t afford the basics.”

“With an election on the horizon we call on both the Queensland Government and the Opposition to explain to Queenslanders how they will end the housing crisis, provide cost of living relief, support vulnerable families and ensure our community organisations have the resources they need to be there in tough times,” Ms McVeigh says.

9 May 2024