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Our RURAL CONNECTIONS PROGRAM is for Financial Crisis and Material Aid – Emergency Relief across the Darling Downs (South of Toowoomba Regions) and it aims to strengthen relationships, improve the wellbeing of people with a disability, mental illness, sickness, domestic violence, that are disadvantaged due to poverty and or in a crisis.  We aim to reduce the cost of family breakdown, strengthen family and community functioning, and facilitate the humanitarian of homelessness/poverty within the rural communities. 

 

The objective of the program is to support eligible individuals and families to navigate financial crises, build financial wellbeing, financial capability, and every day resilience in rural communities, providing support for vulnerable people, disabilities, mental health, and domestic violence and those most at risk of financial and social exclusion and disadvantage. 

 

Financial Crisis and Material Aid – Emergency Relief contributes to the RCSS Activity outcomes by providing immediate financial or material aid to eligible people. This may constitute accommodation, food parcels, clothes, or vouchers (for example for supermarket, utilities, or petrol), especially during times of weekends and out of business hours.

The Program Mission is to:

•  Bring people and community organisations together to foster stronger, more resilient rural communities. The RCSS is deeply passionate about supporting our local economy;

•   Fostering and celebrating a sense of identity, diversity and cultural connection within the community, especially for veterans & their direct families and  people that have a disability, sickness, mental illness;

•  Improving community health and social wellbeing and a sense of a better mental health awareness by increasing access and inclusion for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged;

•  Enabling people to develop skills, knowledge and confidence to lead and contribute to the prosperity and renewal of their community and supporting rural businesses thrive;

We will also foster a caring and collaboration with our Custodians of Country (Bigambul People).

Our RURAL CONNECTIONS PROGRAM incorporates:

  • Drop-in mobile care where we may have a coffee or social meet with our clients

  • Assistance with cleaning and cooking

  • Assisting a person communicate and talk on the phone with services or use electronic devices

  • Providing many referral materials for services and help complete forms

  • Transporting people to medical appointments or other towns

  • Helping with gardening

  • Transporting people to functions or activities (for mental health) for example a person doesn’t have transport to attend the men-shed

  • Assisting people with a disability, illness or veterans relocate to a new home in rural areas

  • Check-ins for welfare check

  • Providing clothing and household items

  • Assistance with understanding Centrelink and Veteran Affairs

  • People with social anxiety or that have a mental illness that precludes them from interacting with other people, we assist with their individual needs

  • Anger and or isolation due to disability, we assist with the clients’ individual needs

  • Utilising the NDIS referral system and work with the NDIS Toowoomba branch. 

How does the RCSS determine who is assisted and what a disadvantaged community incorporates?

RCSS uses current research and data, that includes the information provided by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Department of Social Services (DSS) and the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA).   

 

"Disadvantage is not as simple as it was once assumed to be. There is much more to disadvantage than low incomes and high levels of unemployment, as important as these indicators are. In this Resource Sheet, the term "community disadvantage" is used to denote the complex cluster of factors that make it difficult for people living in certain areas to achieve positive life outcomes. Community disadvantage emerges out of the interplay between the characteristics of the residents in a community (e.g., employment, education levels, drug and alcohol use) and, over and above this, the effects of the social and environmental context in which they exist (i.e., "place effects" or "neighbourhood effects", such as weak social networks, poor role models and a relative lack of opportunity)" Accredited to the AIFS

"Emergency relief supports people experiencing financial distress or hardship and who have limited means or resources to help them alleviate their crisis." Accredited to the DSS

In addition our support extends to veterans and their immediate family members beyond the above criteria's.

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RCSS does not publicise our assistance and support, why?

The clients that approach the RCSS or that are referred from other agencies are in a genuine crisis and need.  It is not appropriate to publicise our support cases.   We provide confidentiality and privacy at all times to protect peoples welfare.   Other reasons are more fundamental, touching the essence of human personhood. Reverence for the human person as an end in itself and as an autonomous being requires respect for personal privacy. To lose control of one's personal information is in some measure to lose control of one's life and one's dignity. Therefore, even if privacy is not in itself a fundamental right, it is necessary to protect other fundamental rights.  Privacy is also needed in the ordinary conduct of human affairs, to facilitate social interchange.  To lose control of personal information is to lose control of who we are and who we can be in relation to the rest of society.  Autonomy is part of the broader issue of human dignity, that is, the obligation to treat people not merely as means, to be used as a publicity stint to give advertisement of a charitable cause to gain popularity, but as valuable and worthy of respect in themselves.  It is as if some part of the person has been alienated and turned into a commodity. In that way the person is treated merely as a thing, a means to be used for some other end.  When we speak of privacy, particularly as a right, we focus on the individual. The individual must be shielded from the prying curiosity of others and from prejudice and discrimination. The individual's autonomy and control over his or her person must be preserved. 

As we are in a rural region, we support the economic structures of rural businesses.   This means that people that come to the RCSS for assistance for food insecurity and other means, are directed to the rural supermarkets and they do their own shopping (limited to no alcohol, cigarettes, and limited junk food) through a card, supported by the RCSS,  that is held by the rural business where they reside.  This instils that we as an organisation that practices philanthropy is supporting dignity and the need to encourage pre crisis self-sustainability on their normal day to day routines.  This also supports rural local businesses thrive.   The RCSS is keeping the funds, goods and services in rural towns for rural people.

Why does RCSS provide food vouchers/cards rather than external food boxes as a food business?

People introducing products and ongoing resources into rural towns, need to consider one enormous factor: the impact on the local rural economy. What so many people fail to realise is that their giving can affect a local business. Food Insecurity, Financial Crisis, and Disaster response efforts must be careful about destroying local (Rural) businesses. The RCSS are deeply passionate about supporting our local economy. The RCSS considers that, if people introduce outside continued and large resources and goods into rural towns, then what happens if the rural businesses must reduce their stock, or even employees, due to the cheap or free resources being introduced.  People become dependent on those resources, rather than becoming self-sufficient and it does not help with longer term recovery or social support, and it does not assist businesses in rural towns thriving.   Our aim is to provide food boxes into rural towns as an initial support as an emergency relief for a few days then assisting people to utilise services to support their long-term needs.

What is community Philanthropy for Emergency Relief and crisis support?

Philanthropy can have important effects on society, and it is equally important that we practice "community philanthropy" by solving the root cause of the issues we are trying to support.  For example, by providing food boxes for a longer term in rural towns, is it going to end hunger?  providing support where it counts is making sure that the person we are providing the food to are going to be able to become self-sufficient again pre crisis, and support themselves without becoming reliant on free and cheap resources beyond their rural communities produces.  It is important for the RCSS to assist people out of their crisis and we believe it is not a charitable gift anymore if dependency is gained and the person is no longer able to be self-efficient over a long period of time.   If a person genuinely cannot afford resources from the business economy, as their essential expenses are beyond their income, then, we are joining other organisations in lobbying and advocating for a better society and outcome, but at the same time, providing material and information to alleviate that crisis.   Resilience is a powerful gift to better mental health and wellbeing and self-sustainability.  

The RCSS supports the concept of food boxes and foodbanks however, in rural towns, we have to be more vigilant and supportive of other measures that support better outcomes.  We understand that at times a food box is appropriate in emergency disasters and short term measures, and this will be supported by the RCSS.  We believe that if a single person is receiving food boxes over a 6-12 month period consistently then the cause is more of a supermarket cheaper alternative convenience, rather than a charitable cause. 

You may feel overwhelmed, but you have options and there are steps you can take to support yourself. 

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Your everyday expenses such as rent, utilities, rates, food, etc can get out of hand and feel overwhelming, which leaves you struggling financially. 

Emergency relief is a short term solution, but you will still need to work out ways to combat that debt pile.

There are solutions and help for you.

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Anyone can have financial concerns. The overwhelming thought of that insurance, phone, rates or any bill entering your PO Box or email can be a shock.  Even buying food for your family can feel that its too much to deal with.   The simplest money concern can leave you feeling lonely, embarrassed and isolated.

 

If your financial situation makes you feel overwhelmed or sad then the Rural Communities Social Services Inc. can direct you into a more sense of safety, we are here to help. There are many services to help you get back on track and we have some resources to direct you.  We can provide you with materials and contact.

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Department of Human Services - Social Services can assist.  They  can help if you’re in severe financial hardship, recovering from a disaster, or need special assistance. 

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The need for rural, regional, remote communities to become self-sufficient is increasing and more than ever, communities need to be able to gather resources, respond, be adaptive and flexible.

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