Debt levels a strain on households

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Pierra WillixSouthern Telegraph
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Statistics revealed last week showed Rockingham recorded the second-highest levels of debt for The Financial Counselling Network, with Rockingham residents recording a debt of $35.05 million.
Camera IconStatistics revealed last week showed Rockingham recorded the second-highest levels of debt for The Financial Counselling Network, with Rockingham residents recording a debt of $35.05 million. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Rockingham area has recorded a total debt of more than $35 million, with providers pointing to the end of the mining boom as a particular strain on households.

Statistics revealed last week showed Rockingham recorded the second-highest levels of debt for The Financial Counselling Network, with Rockingham residents recording a debt of $35.05 million.

Anglicare WA Rockingham financial counsellor Jacky Hamilton said the end of the mining boom had been a significant factor in the struggles of households, with the service seeing clients who were suddenly made redundant and left to find work locally on less than half their previous salary.

Ms Hamilton pointed to the decline in house prices as another hurdle to overcome, with many people forced to sell their family homes at a loss, while also facing a lack of job opportunities, and high levels of personal debt, with some clients having two or more maxed credit cards or secured loans for vehicles, and were now struggling to keep up with repayments.

“Some clients may only be dealing with one of these issues, but many will be struggling on a number of fronts,” she said.

Rockingham based support service South Coastal Health and Community Services chief executive Penny Webb said debt levels could be attributed to a rise in the ageing population as well as the birth of new significant suburbs such as Baldivis, which had brought in a young family demographic purchasing in the area.

“A number of these younger families represent the fly-in, fly-out community and they face the challenges this brings for a family unit, often as single-income households with babies and children,” she said.

“Couple this with difficult economic times for them to navigate and make ends meet, particularly in recent years with the downturn in particular industries.”

Baldivis earlier this year recorded the highest number of bankruptcies in Australia, with 105 bankruptcies declared in the suburb over a one-year period.

“I think there are always challenges for householders to manage debt, particularly around home mortgages that have been entered into by young families during good economic times when they do not have sufficient buffer to manage times of raising a family, dropping to single income, and rising on-costs of power and rates,” Ms Webb said.

The City of Rockingham last week held two community forums to assist residents as part of Anti-Poverty Week, connecting residents with the support services available to them.

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