While our region accounts for only four per cent of the NSW population, some 20 per cent of the state’s rough sleepers are here in the northern rivers, according to Tony Davies, CEO of Social Futures.
And as many as 28 per cent of children in the Kyogle LGA are living in poverty, with all local LGAs having more than 20 per cent.
All up, there are some 11,000 children living in poverty on the northern rivers.
Mr Davies was speaking about a new plan released yesterday by the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) and presented to NSW treasurer Gladys Berejiklian that calls for state budget changes that would reduce the experience of poverty and disadvantage in NSW.
The NCOSS plan, released to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week, identifies key funding priorities for our region including: investment in a cost of living package, mental health services for young people, early childhood education, a state-wide roll out of nurse-led home visits, oral health services and introducing phase 2 of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund.
Mr Davies said the priorities highlighted in the plan were ‘immensely important for communities in the Northern Rivers, particularly those related to social and affordable housing.’
Sandra Handley, Northern Rivers Regional Manager of YWCA NSW says ‘all of the seven local government areas in the Northern Rivers have rates of child poverty which are higher than the NSW average, which sees one in every seven children living in poverty.’
‘Organisations and communities in our region are working together to respond to the challenges and issues identified in the submission. We need well-targeted investment to respond to those challenges and to reduce persistent poverty rates in NSW and within the Northern Rivers’ states Handley.
NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe says the plan is the result of ‘extensive consultation across the state with communities, services and with people experiencing poverty and disadvantage themselves.’
Mr Davies said ‘the priorities in the submission reflect those of the Northern Rivers Social Change Collaboration – a group of organisations and service providers working together to improve community wellbeing in the region – including collective work to support better chances for children and young people, and attracting and facilitating investment in delivery of affordable housing in the Northern Rivers.’