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The terrible costs of family violence

Trigger Warning. This blog contains disturbing information about family violence that may be upsetting for readers.

I didn’t believe that there were any beautiful people left in the world, but they are really beautiful people.

Me and my children have had our lives destroyed by drugs and family violence. My son has an ice problem and he has been violent to me – put me in hospital – and threatened his siblings. I have to get security for the whole house, and a dog, to be safe. I’ll be paying those off for 3 years.

I’ve got serious health problems; mental health and physical things too. I lived in the car for ages with my daughter, after my son destroyed the house we were living in. We’ve been in shelters for months, and community housing for a couple of years. But it was out of town and I lost my licence. Now we are in this housing commission place and we can stay here for life. I’d like to win lotto and move to the country and grow my own vegetables though.

I think I’m doing really well on the DSP. I’m broke, all the time, but it’s because I choose to spend my money on my daughter and on security and I feel good about that. I use the City Mission and other places, NILS for getting a fridge and washing machine, that’s how I can do it. I pay for my daughter’s braces, and dancing lessons. I want to give her the best possible chance to stay off drugs.

Once you have mucked up with ice, there is no coming back. Even once you get off it, you are still damaged. My son is a monster. People all have different ways of handling things, but people with drug and alcohol problems need extra special care. They are a danger to society. Sibling violence is worst, because the young ones look up to the older ones and admire them. I think it leaves a bigger scar on them than when a boyfriend hits their Mum.

I want to use natural medicines, but they are too expensive – $200 a month. I don’t know what I will do when my allocated visits to the psychologist run out. I don’t go out of the house, only to get the groceries and to do a bit of volunteer work helping out an old couple at their home.

That work has made me feel like my shell is opening up. I didn’t believe that there were any beautiful people left in the world, but they are really beautiful people. I feel my shell opening up. 

If you are experiencing family violence or abuse please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

Living on the DSP

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I am on the Disability Support Pension as I have more than one mental illness and a physical condition. I feel lucky to get the financial support, as some people get nothing. There are times I wish my life was different and easier. At the moment, it’s not too bad. I’ve been through worse.

It can be very difficult being on a low income here in Tasmania.

I feel it is harder here than in Victoria. There are no community health centres here. I cannot afford on-going dental health care at the moment, as it stretches the budget too much. Sadly, my teeth are getting worse.

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If I don’t write out my budget and plan for up to 6 weeks in advance I won’t know where my money needs to go. It’s important to balance my necessities and treats, payment by payment. I am able to manage some months easier than others. I feel guilty for buying hobby items, but life involves having fun things too.

I am handy with my hands, which means I have been able to make things for myself for my home. I have saved money by doing this. I do wish my financial situation was better, but I have to manage with what I have.

I try to be grateful for what I have. I look out for sale clothes items all the time. I have slowly built up my kitchen utensils and items of the last year. I have a roof over my head – a safe place I can call my home. I have friends, and I have metal health medication that works.

I do focus too much of my time on money, but when every dollar counts it becomes a way of living: day by day, week by week, payment by payment.

I worry about the financial future. I want it to be as easy as possible, but I will have to wait and see how it pans out.

De.

A winter’s morning at the Benevolent Society: Four people talk about emergency relief.

Food donated to the Launceston Benevolent Society for distribution
Food donated to the Launceston Benevolent Society for distribution

On a chilly winter’s morning recently, four people who came to get emergency relief supplies from the Launceston Benevolent Society kindly shared their story about why they were there. Their experiences highlight the different reasons why people on low incomes run short of money, and the extra challenges that winter brings to managing a budget. Their names have been changed for privacy.

Sean

Sean has lived in a housing department house since he got out of jail 18 months ago. He has worked in many different jobs during his life, but had to finish up due to an injury. He has had difficulties controlling his alcohol use, and has had depression and anxiety problems for a while. He has come into the Benevolent Society today because he has bills to pay that won’t be covered by his DSP. He’ll be taking a box of food and a supermarket voucher. They have also helped him in the past with furniture and clothing. He comes every 3 months because it makes his money go further if he can get some assistance. He puts $20 a week aside for his hobby, restoring an old motorbike – Sean says, “It’s better spending it on that than alcohol, and it gives me something to do. When I’m finished I’m going to take my 80 year old Mum for a ride on the back”.

Heather

She does not normally come to the Benevolent Society, but they have run out of money because two people in the household are unwell with respiratory problems and they wanted to buy wood for the winter to heat the house better.

47 year old grandmother Heather, says has had a hard life. Her mother died at a young age, and it was very difficult to live by herself with her Dad. She left home and school at 16 and now she and her partner have 3 kids and 5 grandchildren. She has worked as a cleaner for years, but recently became unable to work due to health problems. Her family of four live in a private rental, any pay $380 per fortnight. She arranges for Centrepay to pay her rent, her payments for a new washing machine, and some driving related fines that have built up over the years. She currently pays $50 a fortnight toward getting rid of these. This leaves her with $119 per fortnight spare. Her partner has intermittent work, and he pays the hydro bills and all the car costs. She does not normally come to the Benevolent Society, but they have run out of money because two people in the household are unwell with respiratory problems and they wanted to buy wood for the winter to heat the house better.

John

John has come for emergency relief today because his power bill has “knocked him out”.

Continue reading A winter’s morning at the Benevolent Society: Four people talk about emergency relief.

“Poverty can be soul destroying”

My story is not a typical story of poverty or unemployment. I am from a university educated, high socio-economic background. I guess if anything, my story shows this can happen to anyone.

In April 2013 I was house sharing with a friend to divide our costs and our house lease was coming to an end. We were both long term unemployed despite university educations and over three decades of experience each. Me in health and law, the other person in accounting. We were both divorced with grown up children.

Prior to this I had private rental in Hobart seeking work in a larger city, while again living (existing) on the Newstart allowance. At that time in my desperation, I spoke with the Salvation Army counsellor in Newtown. She listened which was nice, but my situation was not typical of homelessness, drug use or mental health issues.

Continue reading “Poverty can be soul destroying”

Grandchildren, food vouchers and back to study

I’m a 60 y/o grandmother who is facing bankruptcy after having spent 20 years sole-parenting.

My story begins with me, through poverty, having to represent myself in the Family Court. This awful experience dragged on for almost three years, leaving me with PTSD. It also caused me to drop out of university, lose relationship with two of my children and become welfare-dependent.

The Child Support Agency compounded my difficulties by allowing the fathers of my children to “play the system”, thus escaping their financial responsibilities. At one stage this resulted in me having to stretch $20 to cover the daily needs of myself and four children, three of whom were teenagers. When Vinnie’s was approached for a food voucher, I felt ashamed. My children suffered shame on a daily basis.

Continue reading Grandchildren, food vouchers and back to study