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.
ConnectEd provides information and advice to vulnerable members of the community on how to better understand and manage their household energy, water and telecommunications services. This is extended in the current context to particularly vulnerable cohorts such as international students and temporary visa holders.
The ConnectEd program at UCWB is able to offer assistance via Zoom, delivering information sessions or small workshops to the community. Topics such as:
- Understanding bills and reading meters.
- Saving energy and water.
- Calculating running costs.
- Concessions, hardship and assistance available.
- Plans, discounts and getting a better deal.
- Solar, batteries and new technologies
To book an online information session email ConnectEd@ucwb.org.au stating your preferred date/time and we will contact you with a link and instructions how to access Zoom. Duration: approx. 1 hour with the possibility of follow-up sessions as required.
Check out [ConnectED](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/utilities/connected-utilities-literacy) for other great ways to save on your Utilities bills and around the home.
Here on the Helpline, we hear the following phrases quite a lot:
‘I haven't been opening my mail'
‘I just put my head in the sand and hoped it would all go away’
Do you have some mail on your kitchen table that you have been avoiding? Amongst the take-away menus and supermarket catalogues, you may have a utility bill or two, a bank statement, a disconnection notice, a demand notice or even a default notice.
Before you know it, a week has gone by, the mail hasn't been touched and your phone starts to ring a lot more than usual.
We appreciate that having to open mail can cause a lot of anxiety, particularly if you are in financial hardship. However, in the long term it can make things a lot more difficult.
If you are sitting at your kitchen table with your cup of coffee staring at a pile of mail and you don’t know what to do, don’t worry help is out there.
A financial counsellor can look over your financial situation, discuss options with you, and if need advocate on your behalf with creditors and utility companies. The important thing to remember is that you do not need to go through this alone. Our financial counsellors are free, friendly and ready to help.
To book an appointment with a financial counsellor call the [Affordable SA Helpline](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/affordable-sa-helpline) on 1800 025 539 or search for [Financial Counselling Services](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/financial-counselling-services) in the Affordable SA App.
There are many different ways to pay a bill and everyone has their own preferred method. You can take a paper bill to the post office, send a cheque in the mail, make a payment via Bpay or set up an automatic direct debit.
If you are currently receiving a Centrelink payment or have just recently started to receive one due to the unprecedented effects of COVID-19, then another way to pay your bills is via Centrepay.
Centrepay is a free bill paying service through Centrelink, whereby an agreed amount comes directly out of your fortnightly payment.
To set up Centrepay, you just need to tell Centrelink:
· Who you want to pay
· How much you want to pay
· Which Centrelink payment you want the money to come from
Centrepay can be a useful way to pay for essential living expenses, such as electricity, gas, water, rent, mortgage repayments, etc.
For a full list of goods and services that can be paid via Centrepay, see the following link https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/centrepay/how-use-it/goods-and-services
For more information about how Centrepay works, see the attached link and video from the Department of Human Services.