Many disadvantaged and vulnerable Western Australians are increasingly placed at risk by the high cost of essential goods and services, particularly housing, but increasingly also energy, water, transport and food. As a relatively wealthy society with a robust economy, we should be able to improve the prospects of the comparatively small proportion of our citizens who are living in poverty.
The households most in need of services and support with the cost of living are those living on low, fixed and insecure incomes experiencing financial stress.
A more integrated and coordinated approach to the delivery of financial management services is needed to actively assist low income households build resilience in the face of financial stress so that unexpected costs or large bills don’t push them into financial crisis or homelessness. Frontline and emergency relief services with greater capacity to direct clients in financial hardship or with complex need to complementary services can better support and encourage disadvantaged households to make the most of opportunities to improve their circumstances.
Population sub-groups who are particularly vulnerable include: single parent families, the long-term unemployed and those experiencing intergenerational disadvantage or dependence; low income families in poor rental or public housing stock; seniors with low incomes and assets, particularly older single women; Aboriginal people, recent humanitarian migrants and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people with disabilities, mental illness or co-morbidity; and people in insecure work.
Strategies (in addition to those specifically related to housing and homelessness) include:
• A comprehensive approach to financial management services and support;
• A whole of government approach to improve the adequacy and targeting of State concessions;
• The introduction of a concessional electricity tariff;
• A targeted energy efficiency program;
• Sourcing the tariff equalisation contribution TEC from consolidated revenue;
• An independent consumer advocacy body; and
• A State Food Stress strategy, based on a regular food access and pricing survey.
Printed and Authorised by Irina Cattalini. 2 Delhi Street, West Perth. WA 6005