19 April, 2017

Community Transport Assistance

Recently included in the Affordable SA App is the Community Passenger Network. These community based transport providers can be accessed by those who are in difficulty in reaching appointments and routine needs such as shopping that cannot obtain transport through other means. You will see some of the community vans and buses transporting elderly residents to and from the shops. Bookings are essential and there may be some charges applied.

The services are always in high demand and many are serviced by volunteers. Services are therefore depended on your community needs and the good will of a relatively small group of people.

CPN is a central point of contact for the transport needs within your local region. There are currently 13 regional and 4 metro based CPN’s in South Australia. Information about other community transport providers in these areas not listed can be obtained through the Network.

The role of a Community Passenger Network (CPN) is to:

1. Provide information on transport services available in the region

2. Coordinate transport services for members of their communities, particularly for transport disadvantaged*

3. Provide ad-hoc transport as a last resort where no other transport is available in the region and where resources are available to the CPN

*for people who are:

- unable to access public transport due to distance, mobility or availability of services, and

- unable to drive themselves, and

- unable to access another person to transport them

The community Transport Network website is not mobile friendly so when using your mobile device you can obtain phone contact information listing each region on the Affordable SA App entry under transport.

The CPN’s are funded by the Commonwealth Home and Community Care program and the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion.

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4 April, 2017

Water Matters in Mount Gambier

Seeking water consumers living with disability to participate in a research consultation project this Friday in Mount Gambier

This is a chance to have your voice heard as consumers of water about the use, cost, quality and access of water in South Australia

It may be that you have had issues with a retailer, or the bills are hard to understand. It may be that you can’t get through to talk to anyone if you have an issue or it’s difficult to navigate the hardship criteria. It maybe that you love your water supplier and have no issues at all. We want to hear about that too!

JFA Purple Orange has been contracted by the SA Department of Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI) to run a consultation

- We know that water doesn’t seem like the biggest issue in people’s lives but from speaking to a handful of people involved in the project, there are definitely some issues being experienced.

- We think that this provides an excellent forum for these issues to be heard and is really the first project that we know of to give a voice to people living with disability on essential services issues.

- We will be holding a consultation at the Western Tavern, 178 Jubilee Highway, Mt Gambier on Friday April 7 at 2pm. We will have a cash door prize on the day!

- If you are unable to make the consultation but would like to be involved, you will soon be able to complete an online survey or the project managers can mail out a paper survey to you.

To register for the event go to https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/water-matters-mount-gambier-tickets-33140348675 or go to the relevant event in our Events Page and follow the links.

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26 March, 2017

Growing with your Neighbours

Today, Sunday 26 March, is Neighbour Day in Australia. This is Australia’s annual celebration of community, encouraging people to connect with those who live in their neighbourhood.

Sometimes we let life get in the way of us making and keeping in contact with the people living around us. Whether through a cuppa, a picnic in the park, or a message of support; Neighbour Day is an opportunity to say thanks for being a great neighbour and for being there when I needed you most.

When I was growing up we knew everyone in the street, even the grumpy old bloke next door who we were sure grew bindi rather than grass just to keep us from getting our cricket balls out of his veggi patch. There were kids everywhere in the street as most had large families and sometimes you would find an extra sitting at the dinner table. A brief exchange of siblings somehow mananged to be incorporated in the family meal. There was much waving and the odd gesture up and down the street whenever you walked by and despite our surprise, Dad would even have the occasional chat over the fence with grumpy old Jack next door. Some urban areas can either become a place of great sharing or a battleground where people build taller fences to keep the others out.

We recently added the Grow Free community to the Affordable SA App. Check it out on in the Food Menu of the App. This fast growing community of backyard growers not only share their passion for home grown produce but share the produce itself for free. There are the growing number of "sharing carts" which are small colourful trolleys outside shops, cafes and maybe even your neighbours's house. Carts are loaded up with fresh produce from the community who drop off their overabundance of produce to share. "Take what you need and give what you can" is the philosophy of the carts. There are also a group of growers busy producing seedlings for free and a range of workshops showing you everything from planting the seedlings to complex mulching techniques.

What better way to celebrate your neighbours every day of the year than by sharing fresh produce with them and a whole community. Don't throw tomatoes, give them away. Grow Free is about making our food locally grown, organic and free. Food grown by the community for the community.

Its not just for the experienced grower as there are many ways of becoming involved with the Grow Free story.

Now older and having my own family I love my neigbourhood and neighbours despite them changing every so often. Most who have moved on are life long friends and we still catch up. There are not as many kids knocking cricket balls around but there is always a bucket of eggs or fresh poduce from the neighbours sitting on my kitchen bench. I'm not a very good gardener but am always willing to lend someone a hand when neighbours call. Getting fresh tomotoes, zucchinni or fruit grown in my street or fresh eggs is the best. More recently if there are fires or strong weather on the way, we make sure everyone is aware and OK. The group text usually announcing everything from the CFS update to new births. Even during Blackouts you can expect a knock at the door to compare notes and share some melting icecream.

Flashing back again to when I was growing up, when grumpy old jack died there wasnt a very large reception but everyone in the street came to pay their respects. When I think back to us playing in the backyard I do remeber that the cricket ball we knocked over the fence at the end of one day would always appear before the start of the next day's play, sitting near the stumps, cleaned and polished ready to go and come to think of it those ripe tomatoes on my Mum's kitchen bench looked very much like the ones in Old Jack's veggi patch next door. I guess I shouldn't have been too quick to judge Old Jack as perhaps in his own way he was trying to show us it was OK.

This Neighbour Day make a difference in your street. A wave, a chat or some form of acknowledgement might help you to develop a better relationship. And think about sharing on a larger community scale with the Grow Free community.

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22 March, 2017

Electrifying review of Mad March

During this year’s March Madness we have seen the Adelaide streets roar to the sound of the Clipsal V8 Power plants. The Fringe with its Garden of Unearthly Delights has teased and tantalised us with its outrageous acts and street performers. We have seen the world’s best music staged in our parklands with the ever-successful WOMAD and the Adelaide Festival has left us gasping for a time out.

If you think it’s finally over and you can take a breath, then you couldn’t be further from reality. Get set for the greatest show on earth. It’s the...

UTILITIES SPECTACULAR, SPECTACULAR!!!

This is all out entertainment bursting with megawatts of excitement.

Already we have seen our local hero going pirate, holdfast for SA from the burning deck of the HMS Buffalo and duelling backstage with the Governor’s lieutenant. All beamed live to the foyer with the audience caught choking on their popcorn. This media frenzy requiring the Executive producer to take to the evening media armed with a new script and smiling whilst lashing out with the occasional boot under the table.

Originally set to play out on a South Australian theatre using an all SA cast it has been supercharged onto the National Grid by giving top billing to the much loved Australian Iconic Snowy Hydro Electric Scheme and dwarfing all before it in it’s majesty. Apparently plans for a bigger role for “Snowy” shelved many years ago but recently found in a small shed in Cooma. The dusty plans just needing a few holes moved slightly to the left and all will be apples. Depending on how many apples are needed and who is paying for them.

The local supporting actors of the original screenplay were wind, solar and batteries with Gas keeping us going through the interval. Though they received good reviews it was still set to be costing the company a lot at the box office. After being included in the initial advertising it seems that “Coal” will now be relegated to understudy for this event and it could spell the end to the aging fuel, knifed before the first act. The Federal Government announcing it would take the renewable offered on a wicket turning more than the Indian cricket tests.

Ticket prices for the opening night of “Utilities Spectacular, Spectacular!!!” are yet to be announced.

Analogies aside, it’s about time that we see the cost of utilities such as electricity finally getting the attention of Government both State and Federal. The underlying factor is that South Australians have suffered high utility costs for a long time and its been hurting real people. It is serious and no play-acting will make up for that hurt already endured. Many SA families have spent a good deal of their limited money on basic utilities such as water, electricity and gas. Remember Water and Gas?

Whichever Government leads us out of here we need to learn to reduce our usage if we want to save money in the interim. You can bank on the solution to our electricity crisis costing us more and using up any reductions a Government regulator can possibly enforce.

The media will be the ones selling tickets and popcorn to this titanic struggle and provide it with more oxygen than it truly deserves. Meanwhile, we the people will need to work out how we will manage to pay the high costs of all our utilities not just power. Reducing our reliance on these services to keep the family budget somewhere near achievable and understanding the many opportunities to help make utilities affordable as well as the support offered by local Government schemes is a must to get us within spitting distance of any final solution.

Utilities Literacy Programs are aimed at giving you the knowledge to make the right choice, and to identify issues that can reduce your costs. There are also some schemes available to help such as concessions for low-income earners and those struggling to meet the high cost of all services.

Check out the Affordable SA App and trade or compare information and experiences with your neighbours and community. Ring the Affordable SA Helpline and talk to a Financial Counsellor for free on 1800 025 539 and take back some control of your money and future. South Australia needs to be an affordable state and continue to be a great place to live.

We are all keen to see a happy ending for everyone in this electrifying drama. If it finishes well we can expect a standing ovation with many curtain calls for all the players. Lets just hope the lights don’t go out again before the final curtain.

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15 March, 2017

Looking for a cheap way of keeping the family active?

Joining a gym or a sporting club can be expensive and keeping the kids active with a regular activity that is both inexpensive and that suits everyone is hard.

Maintaining health is a key function to dealing with the stresses of life. Working all week and managing family and school commitments can be time consuming and stressful. Finding a way of keeping the family fit for free sounds too good to be true.

Park run can take the whole family out to community owned parklands to become more active and build basic fitness. Already Park Run has grown from a grassroots community physical activity and engagement into a regular must do for many families in Adelaide and some regional areas.

Starting in the UK it has quickly grown around the world and now S.A. holds regular events every Saturday morning at Torrens, Lochiel, West Beach, Christies Beach, Mount Barker, Murray Bridge, Strathalbyn, Victor Harbor, Clare Valley, Renmark and Mount Gambier. Look for one near you or become one of the volunteers and start your own.

The events are open to all and encourage people of any ability to participate. You can walk, run or just take it at your own pace and enjoy the surroundings. After completing the run you can check your time and placing or not!

You need to register online (free) and take your barcode for scanning on the day.

Most agree that keeping fit is a good way to deal with stress. Doing it for free makes it even less stressful.

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7 March, 2017

Carers SA Wellbeing programs

Carers provide ongoing support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness or who are frail aged. Carers SA cares for the carers by providing support, advice and much needed respite to help them manage.

Carers SA have partnered with several organisations to develop and present a range of free supporting workshops and skills empowerment sessions aimed at assisting Carers to deal with the complexities of a wide range of associated care issues as well as building wellbeing resilience.

In the coming months Carers are invited to register for several workshops in Murray Bridge, Glendore and Victor Harbor. All programs are designed for unpaid family carers only (not the person they care for who may require in-home respite which we can coordinate) and these programs are not intended for paid support workers.

All programs are free of charge to family carers but numbers are limited so you need to register early.

Murray Bridge - Creative Ways To Care (5 week program) starts March 28

This 5 week workshop is specifically for carers of someone with dementia. More info & Register 85391300

Glandore - Caring for someone with memory loss (6 week program) sponsored by Carer Support and Uniting Care Wesley Bowden - Starts April 26

This free workshop is specifically designed for family carers of someone with memory loss and dementia. More info & register 82060777

Victor Harbor - Carer Wellbeing Program (8 week program) Starts May 9

8 X 2hr workshops are designed to teach participants new ways to build well-being and resilience. You can also sign up to participate in a survey which aims to measure and build well-being amoungst South Australian Carers. Particpation in the survey is entirely voluntary. More info & register 8552 3173 or freecall 1800 242 636.

For more information see "Events" in the Affordable SA App and find your nearest Carers SA offices in the Adelaide metro and South Australia regions.

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24 February, 2017

Living in a state of redundancy

The announcement this week to close the South Australian Coca-Cola plant is bad news for the 180 workers who will face a loss of their regular income. This news coming at a time when experts and the media are highlighting the looming debt crisis we are facing in Australia.

Australians struggling to make ends meet or only one step away from financial hardship are calling the National Debt Helpline in record numbers. It is easy to slip behind meeting the bills when your situation changes such as losing your job or falling ill and it is important to take steps to reduce the impact of these changes before it leads to long term financial pressures.

If you or your family are affected by the recent redundancies in South Australia you can find out your rights and take stock of your financial situation with a Financial Counsellor for free. A Financial Counsellor is a person who can assist you with a range of services relating to personal finances. They can help you to incorporate your debts and ongoing payments into a plan to reduce financial hardship and long term debt. A Financial counsellor is free; independent, confidential and can act as an advocate for you regarding debt to your service providers.

For South Australians needing advice or assistance with managing the cost of living or budgeting phone the Affordable SA Helpline 1800 025 539 or ring the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

Download the Affordable SA App and connect with areas of help and support locally to you and specifically for South Australians.

For those facing redundancy our financial counsellors offer the following tips:

1. Check the redundancy package offered is correct. Many unions will assist in making sure the facts and payout is correct and within agreements.

2. Make use of any free financial advice or planning that is organised as part of your redundancy package. A financial planner or advisor is different to a financial counsellor. They offer investment advice. They can charge a fee which is sometimes paid for by the company during a redundancy process

3. Make use of any employment help and advice to prepare your resume and preparation for presenting your skills to a new employer.

4. Review your financial situation, In particular your debts, needs and how you can manage in the future after you no longer have a regular income. Normally a redundancy is considered income and you may not be eligible for any Centrelink benefits for a corresponding amount of time.

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10 February, 2017

Is your debt binge hangeover becoming a family financial migraine?

The ABC Radio flagship current affairs program PM has reported that Australia is on the verge of a Debt Binge Hangover. Fiona Guthrie, Financial Counselling Australia, CEO, interviewed on the program reported that the National Debt Helpline suffered an unprecidented amount of calls throughout January with more than 14000 calls put on hold due to staffing availability.

There are many reasons why households find themselves in financial hardship and the main issue differs around the country. In Western Australia there are more pressures on house mortgages where the mortgage is higher than the house is actually worth and different mortgage pressures apply in NSW and Victoria. In South Australia the high costs of energy and its reliability have been emerging on the State's debt radar and have been raised as a National concern with extreme weather conditions creating more pressure on the family budget as well as their well being.

The early months of the year are always busy in relation to Financial Counselling and many people are finding that the extra debt incurred over the holiday season combined with kids back to school costs and changes to the school bonus have meant that people are finding themselves struggling with a massive debt hangover. We also see many types of payment plans that see us able to buy now and pay later or Christmas Plans that see the debt piling up at the start of the new year. These payment options can help get us over periods of need or whimsy but if linked to credit rather than debit cards can lead people down a path of long term financial hardship.

Around 30% Households in Australia suffer financial stress but there are around 20% of Australia's population that are in serious hardship. An increase to the interest rates or unemployment getting worse could send many Australians beyond the threshold of any form of managability. We are all only one life changing event away from debt and learning to better manage our finances can only help reduce the risks of spending years of financial problems.

The National Debt Helpline is available on 1800 007 007. Financial Counselling is free, confidential and independant. The National Debt Helpline is a not for profit, community based service that's available to people in Australia experiencing financial difficulty.

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