Anglicare report shows Illawarra areas in need

Three Illawarra postcodes are among the top 10 users of Anglicare emergency relief services across the greater Sydney region.

The Anglicare State of Sydney report, released on Wednesday, found Wollongong users of emergency relief (ER) accounted for 6.5 per cent of all Anglicare ER users across Sydney and the Illawarra, making it fourth in the service's top source postcodes.

Bellambi (2.2 per cent) was ranked ninth and Warilla (1.9 per cent) was ranked 10th, while one in three ER users came from either Mount Druitt, Campbelltown, Liverpool or Wollongong.

ER can include food cards or hampers, assistance with bill payment, no-interest loans or advocacy.

Sue King, Anglicare Sydney director advocacy and research, said while spatial distribution data was influenced by population and the location of ER centres, the results were concerning.

"The situation we have at the moment is increasing need as people are struggling to pay in the private rental market because they can't get into public housing, spending more and more money on rent and, as a consequence, they have less available for food, utilities, heating etc," she said.

"We expect the area in which the ER centres are located, that those people are coming from those areas, but I think it's indicating there's a high level of financial stress in the area."

The report, based on almost seven years of data, also found almost 5000 households experienced homelessness, one in five of which included children.

Housing security or rental stress, along with low income and joblessness, was identified as a key disadvantage risk factor.

Anglicare recently found just 4.3 per cent of Illawarra rental homes were appropriate and affordable for families on government income support payments.

"One third of our families are spending almost half, 45 per cent or more, of their income on rent, so it's an issue about rental affordability, but it's also an issue about adequate income," Ms King said.

"We know that Newstart is ... inadequate to support people."

The report made 10 key recommendations, including that the federal government develop a National Child Poverty Action Plan and fund at least 8000 new social housing dwellings in NSW by 2020.

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