Crisis deepens for region’s most disadvantaged addresses
Community advocates are urging the Gympie region’s housing crisis be fixed as it continues to impact some of the highest socio-economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the country.
Census data captured in 2016 (the most recent available) revealed Tin Can Bay and the Toolara Forest areas were not only the most socio-economically disadvantaged in the Gympie region – based on its SEIFA (Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas) score – but in the country; 94 per cent of other Australian suburbs were better off.
This was followed closely by Gympie city.
The northern areas of Curra, Gunalda and Corella had the third highest level of disadvantage in the region, with Cooloola Cove and Rainbow Beach, and the Kilkivan and Goomeri districts rounding out the “top” five.
Ninety per cent of all other Australian suburbs were better off.
Gympie Salvation Army Corps officer Lieutenant Zak Churchill said he was “blown away” when he was first told about the problem at Tin Can Bay.
Having only moved to the region about six months ago, Lt Churchill said this could be attributed to the town’s distance from Gympie and its services.
“Look at the Sunshine Coast where the (region) centre is on the coast,” he said.
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“The Gympie region is the reverse.”
Lt Churchill said the one priority fix needed to address the issue at the moment was housing, with “very little” access to short-term and crisis accommodation sitting on top of a well-known shortage of rentals and properties for sale.
With this unresolved the region was at risk of higher homeless rates.
Community advocate Mary Condon said the region traditionally fell through the cracks when it came to support services.
Mrs Condon, who is a Member of St Patrick’s Conference of St Vincent de Paul and Gympie Region Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Network, said Gympie was “often overlooked as this region is routinely seen as an outreach area from a more visible centre such as the Sunshine Coast or Wide Bay”.
“A key factor is the housing crisis, which continues to worsen as development in the area further impinges on housing availability and raises rental prices for the meagre stock.
“Waiting times for social housing continue to be very long, with some people couch surfing or living in tents or expensive but inadequate caravan parks for up to 10 months,” she said.
The higher JobSeeker payments had helped slow demand for day-to-day support from agencies like St Vincent de Paul, she said, “but this has increased again with the tapering off of payments”.
“We see the chronic need in the number of families needing support for back-to-school expenses and for help around Christmas time.”