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Social Supports

Respondents were asked to rate three questions about their social support networks against a seven point scale ranging from strongly disagree (rating of 1) to strongly agree (rating of 7).

"Due to my limited income and disability I am not able to go out and socialise. I have a social worker but I am too much of a recluse to want to mix with others.” - Respondent comment

Over half of respondents reported not having many friends and a third reported feeling very lonely. Almost half of respondents (47%) noted that they were unable to find someone to help them when needed. Comments from respondents, however, were telling:

“Since I have been out of work I have lost touch with more and more friends. I cannot afford the petrol to visit them or the money to attend social functions. I have become increasingly isolated which limits the people I can ask for help and almost all of the friends I see now are in the same financial situation as me.” - Respondent comment

"I do not have a support network.  My health conditions and low finances exclude me from a social life and previous friends have abandoned me.” - Respondent comment

“My network at the moment is the case workers from the refuge I used to stay at. I don’t have friends because being limited financially limits things socially too. Basically living payday to payday and finding free entertainments for the kids such as parks or community events.” - Respondent comment

"It is isolating as a single parent, yet the friends I have are worth their weight in gold. ‘Quality, not quantity’.” - Respondent comment

On a very basic level individuals and families are continually making expenditure decisions to mediate their limited financial resources. People on the Disability Support Pension, for example are unable to afford the costs of medication in addition to doing without regular meals, delaying bills and rent, and have very limited and restricted social connections. Recent legislative changes, which have seen many people with disability placed on the Newstart Allowance rather than the Disability Support Pension, will further compound issues of deprivation, disadvantage and social isolation.

The impact of this constant juggling is increased stress, increased conflict with family and, it is suggested, compromised mental health and resilience.