6 August, 2019

The Mobile Homeless

Orange Sky mobile laundry and One Voice mobile showers have been operating around Adelaide for several years providing much needed services for people sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness. Each service works in conjunction with many community centres, church groups and social welfare agencies.

Fred's Van is a mobile food service that provides hot, nutritious meal, blankets, clothing and food vouchers, donated books, social connection and referrals to other community service and Government agencies.

Foodbank now has several Vans to help to bring supermarket to those in need and have been trialing in regional areas.

The good thing about these mobile service is that they can change their roster and location to suit the needs of the homeless. They are supported by volunteers who treat the clients with the dignity they deserve and can lend an ear over a coffee or a hot meal. Although operating independently there are times across the roster where they overlap to provide a wider range of basic services available to where the need is greatest.

Affordable SA is a mobile resource providing greater access to support services for South Australians and empowering house holds facing difficulties. It helps connect the dots using plain language between all the services available and provides an easy self guiding mobile application so that those in need can make informed decisions to take better control over their financial decisions and obtain useful assistance for their well being.

Overseas in London they have come up with an idea turning the iconic red double decker into mobile shelters for the homeless. The buses have room for dining as well as computer terminals to help people to start to reconnect with services. https://buses4homeless.org. In Adelaide we already utilise bus terminals for code red and blue days so an extra bus or two parked in the terminal doesn't seem an unreasonable thing to consider.

by [Graeme](https://affordablesa.com.au/team/graeme-hinckley)

5 August, 2019

Facing Homelessness - Homelessness Week 2019

It used to be that when you mentioned Homelessness it would conjure up pictures of people sleeping rough in doorways. Over the years Homelessness Week has helped to highlight the wider plight of those sleeping rough on the streets, in shelters, in cars or couch surfing. Domestic Violence, family relationship breakdowns as well as financial desperation, mental health issues and drug or alcohol abuse now help to define the Homelessness statistics. The complex series of issues surrounding homelessness make it clear that there is no one case scenario that is a quick fix.

To the many community service organisations and charities, Homelessness Week is just another week when people need and seek help. Politicians and local members will attend forums with guest speakers and a smorgasbord lunch to chew over the subject. We, the public, display our awareness by wearing flannelette or nominating someone in the office to sleep in a sleeping bag overnight. Some will raise money for their favourite charities by walking a mile or two. What ever it is, wearing the shirt, sleeping in the car, buying a coffee for a stranger and eating the homelessness sausage sanga at Bunnings, we need to remember and continue to voice that Homelessness is not something that will go away without a longer term view and greater follow up and commitment outside of this week.

In the major cities such as Adelaide there are a wide range of services that do their best to provide people in need with something to eat, a place to wash clothes, a clean toilet, and if available a safe place to sleep. Many services have now gone mobile. "One Voice Showers" and "Orange Sky" laundry services criss-cross the Adelaide region to be where they are needed and Foodbank is pushing further and further into the outskirts with their new mobile vans to help people in need or at risk of being homeless. It may be a complex game of Tetris but having regular support services at hand to provide ongoing assistance and long term mentoring is crucial.

In the regional areas of South Australia, services are scant and shelters or housing for the homeless are almost non-existent. Without physical housing or shelter solutions for the homeless dealing with the issue is a quick ride on the futile treadmill for most service providers. Even in big shires close to Adelaide such as Mount Barker there are no shelters or accommodation for the homeless and the booming housing growth means there is also little in the way of vacant houses or bus terminal buildings for people to get out of the weather even if its a code red or code blue day. Services in these regional areas can only provide assistance by moving people away from what support groups they have established and risk creating social isolation and increased mental health issues that will have longer term problems. More time than not the person would rather be living rough in an area they are familiar or have established connection than living isolated in a house in another region. Many people return to their original area which means they also risk accumulating debt from a vacant rental.

Check out the ABC Riverland story about the ongoing support needed for regional homelessness (related content).

So slip on your favourite flannelette shirt and sign up to sleep in the car. Get your pockets bulging with gold coins and throw them into the tin whilst eating the Homeslessness sausage sanga. If you're in the outskirts of the city or in the bush regions throw your support behind the local service providers and to the butcher and the baker who quietly helps to feed the many families at risk of homelessness in your town. They need your support to help people doing it tough not just today or this week but every day and every week.

by [Graeme](https://affordablesa.com.au/team/graeme-hinckley)

7 June, 2019

What is EEPS and who can it help?

The throes of winter has many South Australians throwing on an extra blanket or two and bracing themselves for the expected bite from the costs of heating over the next few months. The last few years of higher energy prices has raised our anxiety of heating and cooling costs and is now the single most feared expense in the family's annual budget.

South Australians in particular are well adept at power consumption reduction around the house but there is only so much you can do regarding heating and power consumption to keep your family out of the cold. Many of us are facing the real prospect of disconnection because we simply do not have the money to pay. Even those with some financial capacity and or budgeting strategies can find paying the kilowatt costs hard. For those who do not have the ability to pay it can be a pretty cold shower of devastating reality. Who can they turn to for help?

Many struggling families have utilised the SA Government's Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme but Financial Counsellors are still finding some people unsure of what they are entitled to in regards to assistance or the types of assistance available. EEPS can be accessed if you are experiencing significant financial difficulties and have had your electricity disconnected or are at risk of disconnection. Payments of up to $400 for low-income households and applicants are available for an emergency electricity payment once every three years. The Scheme is only accessible through the assistance of financial counsellors, who will assess your financial situation before lodging an application. If you're in financial hardship and unsure about where you stand regarding access to assistance please ring the Affordable SA Helpline on 1800 025 539. The Helpline can help you understand the assistance available to you or provide an appointment to see a financial counsellor if needed.

The SA Government is one of the more generous of the states and territories regarding this emergency assistance. It is truly aimed at those in most need and under threat of disconnection but with access to the scheme only every three years if you qualify for the scheme one year you will need to consider major changes to manage the subsequent years between. Accessing a Financial Counsellor early may also help to stop you sinking into more debt.

There are other concessions for a range of circumstance such as Medical Heating and Cooling, Energy Bill Concessions, Energy Bill concessions for Asylum seekers and Cost of Living concessions. These can be accessed through contacting the Concessions Hotline on 1800 307 758 or go to https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/care-and-support/financial-support/concessions

Financial Counselling is free, confidential and independent. The National Debt Helpline is a not-for-profit, community based service that is available to people in Australia experiencing financial difficulty. South Australians ringing the national helpline will be transferred to a financial counsellor who knows and lives in South Australia, and is as local to the caller as possible. If you require assistance from a financial counsellor please contact the National Debt Help Line 1800 007 007 (Mon to Thurs: 9.30am–8pm and Friday: 9.30am-4.30pm) or go to the Affordable SA App or visit the Affordable SA website to see more information and the services available in South Australia that can be of assistance.

You can find more information on how to apply for EEPS call the Concessions Hotline or visit the sa.gov.au website or follow the links below.

6 June, 2019

The Cost of Electricity in South Australia

According to consumer review and comparison site, Canstar, in November 2018 South Australia had the highest electricity prices in Australia at 42.88c/kWh, compared to New South Wales (33.12c/kWh), Victoria (28.25c/kWh) and Queensland (27.62c/kWh)[1](#_ftn1). The financial strain that the cost of electricity is putting on South Australian households is unfortunately too apparent for our Financial Counsellors.

One Financial Counsellor commented that she had an elderly client who confined herself to her bedroom with just an electric blanket for warmth, out of fear that if anything else was turned on she would not be able to afford her next electricity bill. Similarly, another Financial Counsellor commented that she had a client who was struggling to pay back a large outstanding electricity bill because her partner, who had recently passed away, relied heavily on electricity for medical reasons in the final months of his life. Therefore, not only did she have to manage the household budget with one less income but she had to repeatedly negotiate with the electricity provider to pay off the outstanding bill.

Unfortunately, these two stories are not isolated incidences; we hear hundreds of stories each month about the strain that the cost of electricity is having on South Australian households. Fortunately, the South Australian Government does provide financial relief through an Emergency Electricity Payment Scheme Grant (EEPS). However this $400 payment, which is only available to clients every three years, provides temporary relief for households feeling the pinch of the rising cost of electricity.

Although we cannot influence how much Energy Retailers charge South Australian households for Electricity, we can educate our clients to take the steps to manage their electricity consumption.

· We check with the client that they are receiving South Australian Government Concessions

· We check with the Energy Retailer that the client is receiving the best available deal/discount

· Through the Energy Retailer, we find out the client’s fortnightly electricity usage as a dollar amount to see how it fits within the client’s budget. If their fortnightly usage is high, we provide information to the client about accessing a Home Energy Toolkit from their local public library and/or contacting a free external Home Energy Audit Service to reduce their electricity consumption.

· We check with the client’s Energy Retailer if they are able to support the client through an incentive plan, whereby the Energy Retailer matches every one or two payments made by the client to assist them out of hardship.

Ultimately, we endeavour to empower our clients to take the steps to be in control of their electricity consumption. We emphasise to our clients that although the Energy Retailers dictate the price, the majority of what the client pays for is ultimately up to them and the electricity that they consume.

[1](#_ftnref1) Brendon O’Neill 2019, Average electricity costs per kWh, Canstar, viewed 4 June 2019,

18 April, 2019

One Voice heads for the hills

The Adelaide Hills region of Mount Barker has boasted some of the largest population increases in the state over the last few years. This explosion of population creates a whole lot of issues regarding the facilities and new services needed to keep pace with this ever expanding suburban sprawl. Like many regions that are on the fringes of Adelaide, the associated social support services that provide for people in need and in financial stress become stretched to the limit and facilities as well as new ideas are needed to match the growth of the town and to assist people to be able to help themselves.

Over the last few years the local Mount Barker community and Church groups have been making available more basic support services to cater for the growing number of people struggling with cost of living issues. Emergency Relief and Free Fresh Food Markets are regularly available through the Salvation Army in Fletcher street with many other forms of assistance such as meals and basic provisions coming from the Uniting, Baptist and Anglican Churches as well as the local Community Centre. These Church groups extend a welcoming and non judgmental hand of help to their community.

There are Government funded services and programs to help those experiencing homelessness in Mount Barker but despite the previous growth in private housing there is little or no homeless shelters available in the area. The lack of basic facilities such as showers and toilet facilities makes it even harder for people needing to sleep rough.

One Voice, the blue mobile shower and toilet van which can be seen throughout Adelaide has now taken the drive up the hill to bring their service to those in need. One Voice in partnership with the Church Groups in Mount Barker will help to provide a regular connection point for the mobile toilet and shower facility. You can find the Mount Barker times and dates for the van in the Affordable SA App and website linked below.

These showers should be considered just a start to providing more of the basics for those experiencing homelessness as there is a lot more to do regarding accessing a safe place to sleep for those in a vulnerable position in our Hills and beyond.

by [Graeme](https://affordablesa.com.au/team/graeme-hinckley)

21 March, 2019

Working Together - The Red Shield and Orange Sky with One Voice

The Orange Sky mobile laundry and One Voice mobile showers have been operating around Adelaide for several years providing much needed services for people sleeping rough or experiencing homelessness. Each service works in conjunction with many community centres, church groups and agencies such as The Salvation Army, Vinnies, ADRA Anglicare and Fred's Food Van.

Both Orange Sky and One Voice have now come together to provide a complete joint service at The Salvation Army Marion. Each Friday morning from 10am till 12 noon, Orange Sky and One Voice meet up in the Salvo's carpark and once a month are joined by a volunteer hair stylist.

Fridays are a busy time at the Marion Salvos with the Op shop in full swing and the Salvos kitchen busy getting ready for the free community lunch for people in need and doing it tough. It is also an opportunity for those experiencing hardship to connect with community programs and services such as Financial Counselling and emergency relief workers available in The Salvation Army building. This new partnership helps to provide a wider range of basic services available at the site, maximising the assistance available.

Of course these services aren't possible without the friendly volunteers pictured. Volunteers Racheal, Dan, Dave and Ron from Orange Sky Mobile Laundry with Cliff and Marlene from One Voice mobile showers. Danise, a self employed hairdresser also donates her services one a month. Not only are these volunteers well trained for their tasks and operating the vans but are equally good at listening.

by [Graeme](https://affordablesa.com.au/team/graeme-hinckley)