Young people face upward battles
Many young people go through upward battles when it comes to renting in Canberra. Renting is expensive. How many young ones can afford to rent their own little flat? Imagine you are young; your job is only casual basis with barely enough hours to buy food for the week let alone pay rent.
A couple of weeks ago Kim (not her real name) called St John’s Care asking for help. She is in her late 20s, working as a casual support worker and her pay the week before was negligible as her employer could only give her 8 hours work. Kim’s initial arrangement with her employer was that she was given a minimum of 15 hours of work a week. However, the Covid domino effect had impacted support workers.
Kim was invited to come in for a case management meeting which she happily accepted and turned up 15 min earlier (talking about keen youth!)
It turned out Kim was also studying part time to complete her Diploma of Community Services. Guess what? She was not receiving any Centrelink support at all.
After a long session with Kim, Nailia, our Case Manager, found out that Kim was suffering from anxiety, depression and childhood related PTSD. On top of that, she finds it difficult to navigate the Centrelink system, particularly when it comes to reporting requirements. When she started working a few months ago, she registered with Centrelink but couldn’t keep up with reporting her income calculations, so she gave up. Consequently, her support payments were stopped, and she felt she was getting nowhere with Centrelink.
When we offered to advocate on her behalf to help reinstate her Centrelink payments she refused. Her attitude was to keep working, get more hours and feel better with more income. She told us that she didn’t want to have anything more to do with Centrelink because she couldn’t navigate the system. SJC wanted to refer her to a very special Human Services team called Community Engagement.
SJC has a very good relationship with the Centrelink Community Engagement Officers who do a fantastic job to help people in various difficult situations.
After speaking further, Kim warmed up to the idea and a few days later she was connected with that team to look after her. Nailia also connected her with a different employment provider who is understanding of her circumstances as a part-time student, needing more hours and suffering from PTSD.
Even though Kim has now started to receive Centrelink support she is still not receiving the hours she needs from her new employer. However, she called SJC to say a huge thank you for referring her to people who care.
Kim is now more optimistic about her work and studies, and doesn’t have that feeling of defeat about the future that brought her to SJC in the first place.
Hopefully, many people who have lost their jobs will find new opportunities. But there will be many left behind, struggling with unaffordable rent - some with significant rent arrears, and diminishing JobKeeper government support.
Thankfully at St John’s Care, we will continue to support people like Kim who are struggling for whatever reason.
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