ABC News Radio
24 November 2014
CHRIS UHLMANN: A new household survey of outer Melbourne shows that as many as one in 10 families could not afford food at least once over the last 12 months.
Community organisations operating in so called growth corridors are reporting a spike in demand from middle class families struggling to pay utility bills and put food on the table.
Demand for financial help has increased more than 100 per cent in the last year and support services are turning away twice as many people as they're able to help.
Zoe Daniel has this report.
ZOE DANIEL: Whittlesea Community Connections is the first port of call for many families in crisis.
And in the last six months it's seen a 40 per cent jump in need from middle class areas where people are struggling so much with costs that they can't afford food.
So if the main thing you're struggling with at the moment is your utility bills if you could bring them in.
ZOE DANIEL: The service can only see 30 or 40 people a week; twice that number are turned away. Appointments are now taken only by phone because dozens were sleeping outside overnight to get a slot.
Chief executive Jemal Ahmet.
JEMAL AHMET: I think people are sold the dream as well of moving into a new Greenfield development, a new housing estate, thinking that you know, their problems will be resolved. When they get there they find that there's one road into the housing estate and one road out. There's not a local school; there's no public transport; there's no local services and the dream they're sold about moving into an outer growth suburb with a new house and a garden, it very quickly deflates.
ZOE DANIEL: The city of Whittlesea covers almost 500 square kilometres and will see its population grow from 186,000 to 300,000 by 2030.
It's issues mirror those in growth areas on city fringes around Australia: roads, public transport, health and education services are not keeping up.
Alecia Murphy and her husband moved to the area nine years ago to raise their three children.
ALECIA MURPHY: My eldest son, now is in year 9, but was in actual kinder when we first moved in and I would have thought that in between kinder to year 9, a high school would have developed in the immediate area, but those facilities just haven't come.
ZOE DANIEL: She says the extra costs associated with transporting children long distances to school and activities add an extra layer of pressure.
ALECIA MURPHY: As well as your own pressures of living with your utilities and your food bills and your mortgage stress. I work part time and if I didn't work part time we wouldn't be able to live off my husband's wage.
ZOE DANIEL: Councils are increasingly frustrated with the lack of long term infrastructure planning.
City of Whittlesea's Mary Agostino confirms the resulting costs mean even those on middle incomes are now struggling.
The council's latest household survey shows 14 per cent of respondents in the council's wealthier areas are experiencing food insecurity.
MARY AGOSTINO: You've got these really high income earning families, yet mortgage pressures and all that goes with living there is putting pressure on food security, children's outcomes and a whole range of other social issues. So it's something quite different to what we've experienced in the past.
CHRIS UHLMAN: Mary Agostino from the City of Whittlesea; Zoe Daniel was the reporter.