Tania Paru and Kevin Lanham are down to their last $100 and are desperate to find work.
Tania Paru and Kevin Lanham are down to their last $100 and are desperate to find work. Max Fleet

The human face of poverty

TANIA Puru and Kevin Lanham are the human faces behind the poverty and unemployment statistics released this week.

The couple moved from Cairns recently for family reasons and are desperately looking for work.

Yesterday they had $100 left in their bank account to last them until they find jobs.

“We've been looking for work for months,” Ms Puru said.

“We'll do pretty much anything.”

Mr Lanham, a plant operator, said he was applying for any job he could.

The couple were at the Salvation Army's Tom Quinn Centre yesterday working on a computer skills course.

Mr Lanham said he went to an employment agency and was told he could have access to their computers — but he did not know how to work one.

“This is the first time I've had an email address,” he said.

“I've been going around on foot looking for work.”

Ms Puru said if her partner got a job he would take it up straight away, but she planned to finish the eight-week computer course.

The official unemployment figures in the Wide Bay Burnett area are 9.3%, but Salvation Army Bundaberg Corps officer captain Phil Sharp believed from his observations they would be higher than that.

“Unemployment in this part of the country is higher than in other areas in the eastern states,” he said.

Capt. Sharp said the Salvos handed out welfare two days a week, and within two or three hours would see 20 to 30 people.

“I'm finding we're getting people in who have never accessed our service before,” he said.

Capt. Sharp said he was particularly concerned at the number of children living in households where no one worked - now one in seven children nationally, according to a Salvos report.

“Kids are now seeing unemployment as the norm,” he said.

“They see their parents coming to the Salvation Army and they think that's how things are done.”



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