Casino high in low Local Government assessment
By EMMA O'NEILL firstname.lastname@example.org THERE isn't a swing-set at any park in North Casino.
It creates a bleak landscape - and one that reflects the state of a region which this week was named the fourth most disadvantaged Local Government Area in New South Wales.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Richmond Valley was given the title after an in-depth assessment of its 21,312 residents. The assessment was based on residents' income, employment status, occupation, personal qualifications, the availability of services and housing conditions.
The recent findings are nothing new according to Richmond Valley mayor Charlie Cox.
"There was a similar report done in 2004 which had similar results," he said.
"However, I believe this time we can turn the figures into something positive by attracting State and Federal government funding."
The result did not come as a shock for Casino resident Louise Amery either. "A lot of people from Casino are on Centrelink payments or very low incomes," she said. Ms Amery is also the Housing Communities assistance program worker at The Oaks in North Casino, and said she often dealt with desperate cases of people struggling to make ends meet.
"We once had a young couple come into The Oaks who were looking for affordable housing. They had four kids and ended up living in their car for a few months because there simply wasn't anything available," she said.
A shortage of affordable housing and the large number of families living on low incomes in Richmond Valley is just one issue causing hardship according to personal support case worker for Newtrain in Casino, Megan Rose.
Ms Rose said a person's level of education can also affect a person's job prospects and affect their mental health.
"One little thing can snowball into a bigger issue that effects every aspect of someone's life," she said. While Ms Rose conceded the council could only do so much to fix the problem without adequate funding, Cr Cox said funding alone was not the answer.
"We need to focus on up-skilling our residents, encouraging kids to stay at school longer and work on the whole infrastructure of the area. On a positive note there is a lot of social capital in the region and a lot of strong community groups operating - a successful town doesn't just rely on material things."