Fernando G

Fernando G

Financial Stress in Regional Victoria

Regionalising the Financial Stress in Regional Victoria

In the recent survey of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) about the Household Impacts of COVID in mid-August, a significant proportion of Australians expect that they will not be able to pay their bills received in the next three months, as compared with when they were asked in mid-June before the alarming explosion of COVID cases in Victoria. However, for Regional Victoria, the impacts of COVID-19 is heavily felt in the decrease of tourism after the second Melbourne lockdown.

Currently, regional Victorians are only allowed to leave home for four reasons:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  • to exercise or for outdoor recreation with your household, or one other person
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home

Although damage is likely to be more limited outside of Metropolitan Victoria, working parents in many regional and remote communities are confronted with a dilemma – to stay at home despite their work being highly reliant on attending to their workplace. Farming families respond to hard times by regulating and tightening their budget and spending less and less on food, clothes and maintenance of equipment to cope with the situation. This may result in hardships such as financial strain, social isolation and reduced access to services.

The Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy identified that more working parents in regional Victoria are from lower-socio-economic backgrounds who were unemployed and were looking for work prior to COVID-19.[1] It is anticipated that the lower socioeconomic families in regional Victoria will significantly be experiencing financial stress because of the decrease in tourism and because of the restrictions in place. Stress results in lower productivity levels and absenteeism among employees which will impact the overall financial wellbeing of the region.

However, a potential restoration of “normal” life in regional Victoria is forthcoming. The Victorian Government announced the much-awaited roadmap out of COVID-19 on 6 September 2020. Regional Victoria will be given a different timeline and road map compared to metropolitan Melbourne. The Victorian Premier hinted that there may be some things allowed in regional Victoria that won’t yet be allowed in Metro Melbourne.

[1] Noble, K., Hurley, P. & Macklin, S. (2020). COVID-19, employment stress and student vulnerability in Australia. Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy, Victoria University.

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