From Mark – 15 January 2020

  • QCOSS CEO Mark Henley
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Post-Christmas/holiday and back-to-school time can leave Queenslanders in the lurch

Everyone in Queensland needs a decent standard of living. However, many Queenslanders simply do not have enough money to get by, especially in regional areaswhere the cost of living is higher, and incomes can be lower.

In this special edition of Conduit, we are focussing in on Living Affordability for people in Queensland. We know many individuals and families are doing it tough during this post-Christmas/holiday and back-to-school preparation time. If you or someone you know is struggling, please read the Problem Debt story below to see where to get help.

It is time the state and federal governments take action to better protect Queenslanders and make sure nobody is forced to choose between repaying problem debt or feeding the family. This is why QCOSS is strongly focussed on:

· Raise the Rate so people have adequate income to afford a decent standard of living without relying on credit; and

· Make the system fairer by passing legislation to stop harmful practice in the payday lending industry; and

· Advocating for governments to improve and apply concessions so eligible people can access what they are entitled to and receive immediate relief; and

· Improve the reach of safe, affordable, alternative credit options such as Good Shepherd Microfinance No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS). The Queensland Government needs to increase investment to enable community organisations, especially those in regional areas, to be able to get out and promote NILS as an alternative to unsafe and unaffordable credit products. You can read more about NILS in the profile and back-to-school stories below.

Last month I spoke to the ABC about the harm caused by predatory payday lenders and the need for alternatives, like NILS, to be more widely available. You can read the article here.

Extreme weather causes financial chaos for Queenslanders

As we face higher temperatures and more extreme weather, this time of year also brings the risk that people might have additional financial pressures as they manage or recover from unexpected emergencies and natural disasters. This is in an environment where more than one in six people in Queensland are unable to raise $2,000 for something unexpected, such as emergency repairs or impacts from natural disasters.

Earlier this week, ACOSS wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging the federal government to immediately boost emergency payments from $1,000 to $3,000 for those affected by bushfires.

QCOSS has been working alongside the Councils of Social Services across Australia, calling for urgent government action on climate change to support those hardest hit by its impact. ACOSS have also released a bushfire guide on how to get help if you or someone you know has been affected by bushfires.

Renters deserve to make the place they reside in their home

I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor piece in response to the CEO of Tenants Queensland Penny Carr’s opinion piece in the Courier Mail, as follows:

“It was great to see Penny Carr’s perspective in her opinion piece, ‘It’s time our tenancy laws were updated’ (C-M, Jan 6). With more than one-third of Queensland households currently renting, and this rate increasing, every renter deserves to make the place they reside in their home.

The state government’s rental consultation found most tenants who responded don’t feel supported by the current tenancy laws in Queensland. The Government needs to create stronger laws to protect renters, which is why it is great to see such a strong suite of suggested tenancy reforms come through.

Housing is critical to people’s wellbeing. A safe and secure home provides a place where people can enjoy and care for those closest to them. By having a stable home, people are supported to gain and maintain employment, improve their education and maintain good health.

Every person in Queensland deserves to live in a place where they can create a home – whether they rent or own.”

15 January 2020