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This article was published in The Area News on 30 March 2022 Click here to read the full article

2022/23 Federal Budget leaves regional communities in the dust

 BUDGET A BUST: The Griffin Green social housing project in Griffiths Dave Taylor Park is sure to provide a reprieve from the Riverinas lack of affordable housing for low income earners. PHOTO: Supplied

Griffith Mayor Doug Curran said that whilst some money has gone towards the regions, there ‘wasn’t a great deal in it for us’.

“I don’t think Griffith or the Riverina benefitted from this year’s budget too much, they are looking at the regions yes but no where near us,” Councillor Curran said.

“With an election in the mix they tend towards throwing money at areas that will improve their chances of winning so it comes as no surprise that the cities have benefitted more.”

“If you don’t have the houses to begin with it doesn’t work and those living in regional communities like Griffith aren’t able to benefit from the scheme to the same extent,” Councillor Curran said.

“I would certainly like to see more social housing projects like Griffith Green, and whilst any assistance is welcome this year’s budget is one that I would say went far enough.”

According to the St Vincent de Paul Society, the budget was the latest in a series of missed opportunities to address unsustainable cost of living pressures confronting people on low incomes.

A one off $250 payment is a completely inadequate response to the unsustainable and ongoing cost of living pressures that are leaving people on low incomes further behind,” Vinnies NSW CEO Jack de Groot said.

“Put simply, this move is a band-aid that fails to rectify the long-term inadequacies that force the most vulnerable members of our community into poverty.”

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW State Council President, Paul Burton, expressed similar disappointment over the lack of funding for social housing.

“For all the work our people do in communities across the state every day, there is only so much that the Society alone can achieve to break the cycle of poverty without greater investment in social housing,” Mr Burton said.

“It should be noted that demand for social housing outstripping supply is not just an issue affecting our larger cities but is being experienced at unprecedented levels in regional areas.”

An example of this being the Linking Communities Network, Griffith’s support network for those experiencing homelessness and survivors of domestic violence, which has seen a huge increase in those asking for help.

Former Leeton Vinnies President Eileen Edwards echoed these sentiments and said that the budget did nothing for social housing and was a mere ‘band aid solution’.

“It’s great that we are seeing more funding go towards mental health and protecting victims of domestic violence which we unfortunately see a lot of in our community but this isn’t good enough,” Ms Edwards said.

“Let us work on the assumption that someone is on an average wage with two kids a car and rent what do they have left to run the house, feed kids and so forth?”

“The opportunity to buy homes is very difficult because the homes just aren’t there to buy and the social housing we do have in Leeton and other regional towns is so badly looked after it becomes almost uninhabitable.”

Member for Murray Helen Dalton said there was ‘no real vision’ in this years budget.

“It’s encouraging to see much needed funding for regional areas – like telecommunications and mental health services. But a pre-election promise doesn’t give us much hope, given the government’s track record,” Mrs Dalton said.

“The Liberals and Nationals have put aside money for blackspots for years – the problem is we never actually see the money spent.

“One-off payments only add to cost of living stresses. They don’t really address long-term issues.

“There’s also very little for social housing. Housing stress and homelessness is the biggest problem we face – but the government have ignored it.”

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May 13, 2022

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