It's almost time.
One more sleep and I can't wait to count that sheep.
Hope you all have a great Christmas
Today is a shout out to those who will over this holiday period sacrifice their time with family and friends to attend fires and emergencies.
The volunteers of the CFS and SES are always on alert over the break. In many parts of South Australia Christmas time is a time of high alert particularly with expected high temperatures. The tragedies of past seasons means that the emergency services always estimate their numbers of available volunteers if needed. Even the support groups such as The Salvation Army Catering volunteers needed to feed this army carefully examine the weather over the holiday period to ready themselves.
All these volunteers need the understanding and support of their families to do what they need to do usually at the most inopportune time.
Hopefully the season will go by without incident and volunteers enjoy the time at home. That in itself would be a blessing.
Our communities in rural and remote areas of South Australia effected by the drought will do it tough this Christmas. Many do not have the money for a Christmas meal.
Access to drought support which has been operating in NSW and Queensland has now been opened up to South Australian communities suffering hardship because of the drought. Up to $3000 per household, including up to $2000 to help pay the bills and $1000 in vouchers, will be some welcome relief this Christmas and provide immediate assistance to around 10 000 farming households facing hardship as well as the fragile community of farm workers and farm contract suppliers that rely on the land.
Claiming expenses can include grocery bills, vehicle maintenance, school & education expenses, energy & utility bills, health & medical expenses etc but its not just the financial assistance that is needed. The local charity organisations that have been part of these communities for many years will help to deliver the financial assistance as well as compassionate help through this devastating time.
Three charity organisations will be tasked to provide the assistance to people in rural areas who are facing hardship during the drought. Rural and remote staff based in these communities from St Vincent de Paul, Rotary Australia World Community Service and The Salvation Army will be tasked to deliver this drought assistance. Many are long time trusted community members and are the familiar face can help make the difference with isolated communities suffering hardship.
Contact for assistance is as simple as ringing 1300 327 624 or filling in an online form which can take 5 minutes. See attached.
People are also encouraged to reach out to their local support services such as Emergency Relief and organisations listed on Affordable SA that can provide more personal support other than financial.
Tragically and historically, the Christmas holiday period sees a large increase in domestic violence issues across Australia. This year we have seen the most appalling statistics of deaths of women through domestic violence by men and brace ourselves for what could be more tragedy over what we should consider a time of peace, good will and family.
Affordable SA would like to acknowledge the Zahra Foundation for their work throughout the year in helping Domestic Violence issues. Our Intake Workers and Financial Counsellors say that in South Australia, Zahra is the most referred to for clients experiencing domestic violence issues and the financial hardship associated with domestic Violence.
Governments fund agencies to respond to issues but organisations like Zahra have the personal mission which is needed to make inroads into the awareness and action against the effects of domestic violence against women. They are very active in the South Australian community as well as having specialist counsellors dealing with particularly difficult and legally challenging domestic violence issues. This includes specialist financial counsellors who deal with the wider aspects of financial debt as a result of an abusive partner.
A lot of domestic violence issues stem from financial problems, and the combination of alcohol and hardship is the main ingredient in so many cases of domestic violence and ongoing financial and abusive problems for families. Christmas and football grand finals are the recognised worst times of the year.
Many women have been left with huge credit card and loan debts by their partner who has access to the personal documents needed to create online credit applications. There is also an example of where someone has purchased a large amount of phones in their partner's name leaving large debt for their partner and profit for them when sold. A financial counsellor can help negotiate solutions to many financial debt scenarios but the issue of financial abuse of a partner via online needs to be addressed with proper regulation.
The Banks over recent years have developed a number of domestic violence packages that may assist someone who has been given bad credit debt by their partner. Many feel vulnerable with the threat of separation and ongoing debt and will sometimes disclose domestic violence for the first time when ringing in relation to needing assistance with financial issues.
There is also the 1800 Respect 24/7 hotline (1800 737 732) to assist with domestic violence and a number of other agencies who provide more localised assistance. There are several Apps or websites to discreetly help women find more information. See the Affordable SA website https://affordablesa.com.au/programs/domestic-violence for more information regarding financial assistance for Domestic Violence. If there is an immediate threat of violence you should always ring 000.
We see many campaigns attempting to create a zero tolerance policy in regards to road deaths over Christmas. Police will be out again in great numbers actively testing and with a huge public presence over this holiday period. These deaths on the road are mostly accidents or poor road behaviour but the death of a women due to domestic violence is where a zero tolerance is desperately needed.
The Zahra Foundation and their project partners have made a big difference. To that we sing their praises. They are able to deal with every aspect of domestic violence from the immediate support needed to get out of a situation to the legal and financial assistance for victims. They have saved lives and helped to restore self confidence in those effected by domestic violence.
Staying in touch with family and friends at Christmas time can help to make it special. Many people struggling with the cost of living pressures can't afford the added expense of phone plans and other communication expenses. Australia is a big country and keeping in contact across our deserts and vast distances can be expensive.
People doing it tough over the Christmas period will once again be able to call anyone in Australia across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day free of charge from any of the 16,000 Telstra branded payphones around the country. Telstra Air Wi-Fi will also be available for free from enabled “pink top” payphones and Telstra Shops during that period.
The full details are: Free calls around Australia to local, national and standard mobiles from Telstra payphones from 24-26 December 2018. Free calls exclude international calls and premium services, Mobile Satellite, and 1234, 12456 directory services. Excludes Telstra rented payphones. Free Wi-Fi data at select Telstra Air payphones and Telstra Stores, in Australia only. Telstra Air available for Wi-Fi enabled devices only.
It's getting very close to Christmas and a reminder that the Affordable SA Helpline 1800 025 539 will be closed from 16.30pm this Friday 21st December and will reopen at 9.30am on Wednesday the 2nd January 2019.
There will be no Financial Counselling appointments during this period as the Affordable SA Team take some well earned time off to be with family and fiends and recharge their batteries ready for another busy year helping South Australians in 2019.
It will come as no surprise that around this time most of us feel that Christmas is just too much for us to cope. Our own expectation of Christmas can be unrealistic, both emotionally and financially. As soon as those Christmas decorations appear in the stores we can expect a rapid acceleration and increase of our anxiety levels.
The pressure we put on ourselves to meet our own expectations is generally unhealthy and seeking refuge in the shopping peloton we maintain a spending momentum that can see us financially insecure well into the new year.
Earlier this week The Salvation Army released a snapshot of how we feel about Christmas and It doesn't paint a very rosy picture.
- Over three million Australians are likely to contact a charity for help with basic necessities such as food, power, or other bills this Christmas.
- Nearly half a million people (437,000) experienced fear of being physically or emotionally abused when thinking back to last Christmas.
- One in four Australian adults experienced anxiety, three million experienced depression and two million experienced social isolation when thinking back to last Christmas.
- 6 million Australians feel obligated to spend more than they can afford at Christmas.
- 7.6 million Australians say Christmas is the most stressful time of year.
There are ways to reduce some of the stress and worry of Christmas by reducing and keeping costs under control or to seek help to manage. There will always be those that need support and help from the Charity agencies and by donating and volunteering we can do our part in making sure people have a reasonable Christmas. We can reach out to those that are lonely and we can understand and try to solve conflict within the family. There is however no excuse for anyone to feel threatened or abused at any time of the year.
The staff at the Affordable SA Helpline have been getting into the Christmas spirit and decorating the office. Surrounded by tinsel and elements of Christmas they have still been hard at work helping South Australians experiencing hardship and struggling with the cost of living.
Take a look at their handy work.