Demand for emergency household relief has hit a record high in Rockhampton, as large families are crammed into motel rooms, and residents forego specialist medical appointments due to the cost-of-living and housing crises, community services warn.  

It comes as some Rockhampton residents pay up to 60 per cent of their income in rent.

On May 23,  the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) will meet community services from across the Rockhampton region to discuss the social issues most affecting residents. 

Aimee McVeigh, CEO of QCOSS, which is leading the Make Queensland Fair campaign, said services had raised alarming instances of families and single people really suffering because of unprecedented cost-of-living pressures in the area. 

“Central Queensland is experiencing its worst rate of rental affordability in at least 15 years, pushing more residents to seek help from services for every day, soaring household bills,” she said. 

Carol Godwin, CEO of Make Queensland Fair campaign partner Anglicare Central Queensland, said the cost-of-living pressures in Rockhampton were “like those we’ve never seen before”. 

“Demand for our financial resilience and emergency relief programs is at a record high, with rent being the single biggest cost of living expense,” Ms Godwin says.

“People are paying up to 60 per cent of their income on rent and are left with little else to survive on.  It’s a demoralising exercise for them to work with us to try and make a budget work. 

“The lack of rental affordability and availability is pushing rents sky high. At the end of the day, we need more social and affordable housing stock delivered across Central Queensland and we need a limit on rent increases.” 

Rachael Speechley, Area Manager for Rockhampton Meals on Wheels, an MQFC partner, said the organisation’s staff and volunteers are concerned about clients not being able to afford medical specialists and follow-up appointments. 

“They worry about under 65-year-olds not having the same access to meal subsidies to better afford nutritious meals,” Ms Speechley said. 

“Food costs have also gone up for our services, and we continue to fight hard to stop passing on those rising costs to our clients.  

“People are living from paycheck to paycheck. We could do more to help, if there was more support from the state government.” 

Ms McVeigh said the Queensland Government’s recent announcement of a $1000 power bill rebate showed the state could share its prosperity at budget time and called for more support for community services and cost of living support in the upcoming state budget. 

23 May 2024