Sarah* is a single mother of two children aged six and three. She lives below the poverty line on a government allowance and often doesn’t have enough money left at the end of each fortnight to buy medicine, pay bills, or put a proper meal on the table.
While many of us are planning holidays, shopping for gifts, or deciding what size turkey we need for Christmas Day, all Sarah wants are the basics – to know the rent will be paid and her kids won’t go hungry. Anything else is a bonus.
Amanda Hunt, CEO of UnitingCare West, said that for the three million Australians living in poverty, Christmas was often a time of heightened stress, exacerbating the sense of financial and social isolation they already experience on a daily basis.
“A recent ACOSS Poverty Report revealed that people experiencing poverty at the highest rates are relying on government allowances – 64 per cent on the Youth Allowance and 55 per cent on Newstart,” Amanda said.
“From our own research, we know there is a lack of awareness, understanding and support in the community for people like Sarah. When you combine this with economic and locational disadvantage, families can become socially isolated and trapped in a cycle of poverty.
“We want everyone to enjoy a special Christmas, but it’s important we’re there for families all year round, making sure everyone has a good life – we all deserve this.”
Amanda said that by supporting the Target UnitingCare Christmas Appeal, or making an online donation via the UnitingCare West website, West Australians can all play a part in connecting people to their communities at Christmas time and beyond.
“A sense of belonging is one of the greatest gifts we can give people and families caught in the cycle of entrenched poverty; to enable them to make a difference in their own lives and be a part of a caring community,” Amanda said.
“Last year we distributed more than 1,300 gift packs and 1,400 food hampers to families and individuals across Perth. This year, we’ve had people contacting us as early as June asking to be put on the list so their children won’t miss out on experiencing a happy Christmas.
“The support of the Perth community at this time of year allows us to reach out to people experiencing hardship, helping put food on tables, presents under trees and above all else, giving people a sense of belonging, hope and purpose.”
Visit your nearest Target store and purchase $2 gift tag ‘baubles’, with proceeds used to provide emergency relief for individuals and families in crisis. You can also purchase a gift to leave under the Christmas tree in your Target store, which will be included in UnitingCare West’s gift packs.
Donations of pantry item food, socks, underwear, jeans, tracksuit pants, thongs and unwrapped gifts for people of all ages (toiletries are in urgent demand) are welcomed. Donations can be dropped-off to reception at any one of UnitingCare West’s Connection Hubs:
- Inner City: Unit 5/5 Aberdeen St, Perth
- South West Metro: 10-12 Market Street, Fremantle
- Outer North: 56 Baltimore Parade, Merriwa
*Name has been changed