With the Illawarra doing it tough as cost-of-living pressures mount, Val Browne is reminding people that it's okay to ask for help.
The Shellharbour parent-of-four, who works up to 60 hours a week as a truck driver to keep up with soaring prices, said her family has had to make sacrifices in order to stay afloat.
"It's not been easy, adjusting to rising prices has been one of the hardest things we've had to do," Mrs Browne said.
It's only set to get harder, with the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday deciding to increase the cash rate target by 25 basis points to 3.6 per cent, raising interest rates for the 10th consecutive meeting.
Meantime, essentials such as food and energy are becoming increasingly expensive, also putting strain on household finances.
But Mrs Browne has been building her knowledge of the community assistance available to her and wants others to know they too can tap into these services during times of financial hardship.
To ask for help is not to admit defeat but to admit you want to keep fighting on for yourself and those you love.
"We were previously a part of a local food bank, " Mrs Browne said.
"We are also in the process of getting an Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) voucher."
The 28-year-old said the availability of the $50 vouchers for payment of energy bills, given to people dealing with a financial crisis, was unfortunately not known to many.
"I've also taken a no-interest loan in the past, it's called the NILS loan for goods, furniture, household and a few other bits and pieces," she said.
Mrs Browne said the repayment of the loan has been quite smooth, with the money deducted directly from their Centrelink payment.
The six-member family, which previously lived in a Housing Trust property, has now moved into one maintained by Department of Housing.
"Our general experience with both has been good, easy to deal with," she said.
Mrs Browne, who remains grateful for all the support, said she can understand some people might find it hard to ask for help.
"It's harder to admit you need help and get it," she said.
"To ask for help is not to admit defeat but to admit you want to keep fighting on for yourself and those you love."
One of the things that has kept Mrs Browne level-headed in such a stressful time has been staying connected with the community and withstanding the hard times together.
"One of the biggest factors is so many people are just pushing through because they feel like they have to and that's never fun."
Despite the community organisations providing a range of support options, Mrs Browne believes those in positions of power need to be doing more.
"I've got children with disabilities and in that situation my partner gets a carer's disability payment but my income affects that," she said.
"If I get a really good week of income, my wife will lose some payment and it makes it 10 times harder for us to deal with.
"Some rules just don't make any sense."
Other community support services:
*The story has been updated with new information
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