Savation Army in need

NEVER GO HUNGRY: Salvation Army corps officer Tim Frost will ensure nobody in the Limestone Coast goes without food. Picture: CHARLOTTE VARCOE

Charlotte Varcoe

SALVATION Army corps officer Tim Frost has expressed concerns over the increased number of people requesting assistance.

Mr Frost said the local Salvation Army had 64 welfare visits in a two week period with 26 per cent being new clients.

A further 62 per cent were clients who had visited the services more than three times with 11 per cent visiting the services at least twice.

It comes following the hand down of the 2024-2025 state budget with the state government announcing $266.2m to help provide relief for the increasing cost of living to those in the state.

This includes materials and services charge subsidy, sports voucher expansion, additional cost of living concession payments and social housing energy upgrade initiative.

It also includes the expansion of public transport concessions, remote area energy supply and fees and charges set by the government only increasing by three per cent instead of the rate of inflation which is at 4.3 per cent.

Mr Frost said the community should not “slam” the government too much as it needed to make money as well in order to spend money on things the community needed.

“I really think all governments are trying their best as it is tough for everybody,” Mr Frost said.

“We can bag them out because it is easier to do so but it would be good if the community got behind them and asked how they could help or what they could do because we have got to understand the government is trying to help the community and we need to help each other.

“It is really tough on every society but I do not see many greedy people around here, they do not have the resources to do as many people are leaping from one payday to the next.”

He said the community could also step up and help one another through donations and further support to services such as the Salvation Army with all funds going back into the community.

Mr Frost said althoguh the government was continuing to try its best in supporting the community, there were still those he believed fell through the cracks – including those who could be on a disability pension yet did not quite fit the criteria.

“We once had a man come in because and he had sold his home because him and his son were not coping,” Mr Frost said.

“They should have been on a disability support pension and they are not and because of that they are really struggling.”

He said the duo needed more at-home support and assistance.

“They are the sort of people we are finding are coming in for support as well as those with mental health issues,” Mr Frost said.

“It would have been good to have more mental health support in Mount Gambier because things like that would help with the cost of living crisis.”

He said education around managing bills and finances would also be beneficial rather than just handing out money.

“The more people who are supported means the more people who do not need our service,” Mr Frost said.

“We are still seeing the working poor, they are still coming in and recently I had a man come in in tears because he came from Millicent for an appointment and had no money to get home.”

He said he understood the government could not afford to support everybody and called on the community to further support fundraisers such as the Red Shield Appeal.

“This community has done that,” he said.

“They have been so wonderful as we have met our target and people are telling us they cannot afford much but they will help where they can and that is the attitude in this town.”

Mr Frost said although the Red Shield Appeal had reached its target, the Salvation Army in the Limestone Coast was also feeling the pinch.

He said the local branch was burning through its weekly budget to help people finance items such as bills.

“Our area ran out on Wednesday morning and it usually runs out on a Thursday or a Friday,” Mr Frost said.

“If the funds are exhausted and people come to us, we will make sure they at least have got good, we can help with clothes but if they need help with money they will need to go through the phone assistance line.

“We will not see anyone go hungry.”

The Salvation Army currently hosts toastie takeaway on a Tuesday, a toastie brunch sitting on a Wednesday and free food on a Friday.