Long-term recovery with a side of groceries

Emergency Relief (ER) provides immediate help to clients in crisis. This year, AV’s ER program continued to explore an evolution toward ‘community hubs’ that connect people to services that will build long-term independence, such as family violence or drug support services and financial counselling.

The demand for ER services increased during the pandemic with some locations reporting a threefold increase in the number of new clients seeking support. A large proportion of the people AV helped had never experienced this level of hardship before, with cost of living, rent and mortgage stress common concerns.

“Last year, we were in isolation. Our family wasn’t available, and I wasn’t sure how to get support. Sally* (an AV emergency relief worker) provided not just the basic needs but the emotional and empathetic care for my daughter and our pets. It was comforting to know that AV was around. It was above and beyond, and I can’t thank them enough. Sometimes it’s hard for people to ask for help, which I found, but once you do, you feel worthy.” – Angela*, a single mother

AV has been trialling the integration of food relief and financial counselling for those in need. This financial capability model ensures clients’ basic needs are met, their dignity is preserved, and they are empowered to take greater control over their financial situation and build independence. A financial counsellor is onsite at our Preston and Mission House (Fitzroy) food relief centres. ER workers identify clients experiencing financial hardship and refer them to a financial counsellor for individual support.

“These people are really at the lowest ebb in their life, and if we’re not here to help them, I don’t know who’s going to.” – Chris de Paiva, Program Manager Diocese and Parish Partnership

Research teams conducted hundreds of client surveys at ER centres this year to better understand their needs and situation. Around 70 per cent had less than $100 in the bank at a time when the cost of living had increased significantly. AV continues to advocate for the increase of Centrelink payments, which has been shown to reduce ER service demand, as demonstrated during Victoria’s COVID lockdowns. Over the last year, 6355 Victorians were provided urgent assistance at 16 emergency relief sites statewide.

The 2022 Annual report can be found on our website.

To request a hard copy of this report, call us on 1800 809 722.

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