In this past two weeks I have had the very good fortune to increase my awareness of the many many people across the Hunter Valley, NSW and Australia that are doing it really tough.
And I would hope, that as a people, as a culture, as Aussies, that we would actually all care very deeply about the struggles that face these people and that we would all have the ability to think of someone other than ourselves.
So here are some things that we all need to know. One in every six people across NSW are unable to put food on the table some days. In country and regional areas, like the one that we live in, that figure is actually more like one in every five people. Think about that next time you walk down the street, or attend the kids sport. One out of every five people that you see at any of these places actually has trouble putting food on the table each week.
Let's imagine one of our local schools with about 100 students. Of that group of kids, 20 of them might not have had dinner the previous night and/or breakfast that morning. And they probably don't have anything to eat for lunch.
But it's not just the kids at school, it's also their brothers and sisters and it's also the mother and father looking after them. Of these families that can't afford food, 75 per cent of them will actually be working in some form of employment. They might be casual, only doing a few hours each week, or possibly doing a lot of hours for a few weeks in a row and then doing almost nothing for the next few weeks.
Some of them might be in more permanent employment, but just on a really low wage that barely covers the rent and electricity bills. For the struggling families where there is no employment, some of the people might have worked permanently for 20 or 30 years but are now injured and can't work anymore, or might have been made redundant because their job is now done by a machine or a person in another country.
While all of this is happening, we need to be a more compassionate community. I believe that my community has the ability to judge less and support more.
I believe that our community has the ability to help in lifting up those that most need our care and empathy.
I believe that people living in poverty, or on the verge of poverty, are far more deserving of our attention than a tunnel or bridge or rail line that might make the day 5 or 10 minutes more convenient.