Bill shocks absorbed

South East Community Links CEO Peter McNamara says Bring Your Bills Day is designed to support residents battling with rising costs of living. 401788_03 Picture: GARY SISSONS

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

South East Community Links is bringing back its Bring Your Bills Day as residents continue to battle the rising cost of living.

The event – which kicks off in Springvale on 30 April – supports people with fines, bills, tenancy issues, government payments and energy usage.

SECL chief executive Peter McNamara said the impacts of the increasing cost of living are still “cutting deep”.

“Our data shows an overwhelming concern among community members about their ability to afford basic necessities such as food, rent, and bills over the next year.

“There are children missing out on after school activities and excursions because families can’t afford it.”

At the event, people can meet face-to-face with SECL financial counsellors and experts from the water, power and service sectors.

It’s a golden chance to work through financial challenges – such as with bills, renters rights, financial and consumer rights, Ombudsman services, Centrelink and an array of support services.

Last year’s Bring Your Bills days in Dandenong, Noble Park, Cranbourne West and Pakenham attracted more than 500 people seeking help and advice.

It led to real outcomes – more than $160,000 of resolved debts and 52 concessions and grants.

As a result, 86 per cent of the attendees reported being on track with their utility bills as a result.

And 100 per cent felt more confident to make a complaint.

One of those seeking help in Dandenong last year was an injured aged-care worker unable to continue her job.

With her husband being the sole income-earner, their monthly rent rose and the bill stresses mounted.

I felt lost, stuck and didn’t know where to go,” she said.

“I thought I would walk in and receive some advice but here they gave me some solutions.

“I feel like a big stone is lifted from my shoulders.”

Bring Your Bills is at Springvale Community Hub, 3 Grace Park Avenue, Springvale on Tuesday 30 April, 10am-2pm.

Other events are planned in Hampton Park, Dandenong and Pakenham later this year.