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Community services a ‘lifeline’ for Australians during the downturn

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The survey found that community services were a vital lifeline for low income Australians during the economic downturn.

Surveyed organisations provided services to Australians on 4.3 million occasions in 2008-09, an increase of four per cent on the previous year.

Young people, sole parents and Indigenous Australians were among the groups with the highest need for services. There were over half a million requests for help from people needing youth employment and youth welfare services during the year.

“The survey reflects the pressure points in the community during the economic downturn. People were assisted with essential services such as finding a bed for the night, emergency cash to pay bills, disability support services and mental health counselling,” said Martin.

“Agencies are reporting they are struggling to meet the rising demand for services and are forced to turn people away.

“With long-term unemployment still rising and high youth employment, the pressure on organisations to meet this high level of demand will only escalate.”

The Australian Community Sector Survey is the only annual survey providing an overview of the not-for-profit community services and welfare sector. Respondent organisations included community and welfare organisations from the membership of ACOSS and the State and Territory Councils of Social Service.

The report provides information on service use, income, expenditure and workforce issues for the community services and welfare sector. The 2010 survey covers the financial year 2008-09 and had 582 survey respondents.

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