Tom Quinn centre’s Legal and Community Services representative Pam Cooper has helped process some of the $187,000 welfare payments handed out in the past financial year.
Tom Quinn centre’s Legal and Community Services representative Pam Cooper has helped process some of the $187,000 welfare payments handed out in the past financial year. Scottie Simmonds BUNTOM

Struggling to put food on table

BUNDABERG battlers are struggling to put food on the table and have relied on $112,000 in food vouchers from the Salvation Army Tom Quinn Centre, to get them through the past year.

The centre’s spokeswoman Janette Young said a total of $187,000 was spent on welfare payments last financial year and did not account for any flood relief assistance.

Of the $15,000 handed out last month, $10,000 was spent on food vouchers.

“The range of people coming to us has broadened. Quite a lot of mainstream people are now coming to us,” she said.

Mrs Young said the mainstream people were “normal, everyday families” who were knocking on the centre’s doors for help.

“We’ve seen people come through our doors who have children at private schools, but one of their businesses has gone down, and the other partner has lost their job,” she said.

Mrs Young said the welfare payments handed out had blown the Tom Quinn Centre’s budget out by 83%.

“We know we are going to be over next year’s budget before we even start,” she said.

Although help is “given with an open heart”, the centre maintains a controlled process when offering financial assistance.

“What people think they want may not be what they actually need,” Mrs Young said.

She said the centre kept “control of the purse strings” and assistance was only given for the essentials.

“You won’t be able to buy alcohol or cigarettes,” Mrs Young said.

“We don’t give out cash for them to pay their rent, we would pay it for them,” she said.

Mrs Young said the rate of people who needed assistance had not slowed down, and was a long way from doing so.

“If you really need support, don’t think you are alone – because you’re not,” she said.



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