A single mother from Brisbane has revealed how the country’s cost of living crisis has caused her utility bills to soar to $1500.
Lenice Davidson, who lives in Brighton, north of the city, with four of her six children, said spending on raising a child with disabilities has hardly enabled her to keep her head above water.
This was most evident in the family’s household expenses, which have soared since their government payments were cut as the crisis deepened.
Lenice says her woes peaked when she received a mammoth $1,500 electric bill, largely due to charging her teenage daughter Angel’s electric wheelchair, which she uses due to a heart condition.
“She has a pacemaker. They have two motorized wheelchairs here. I, you know, all those things, but you have to move on and NDIS doesn’t cover it,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Angel’s heart condition also means the family home must be kept cool throughout Queensland’s warm summers.
“It’s crazy the size of the bill but I’m just going to have to accept it. My daughter needs to be cooler these hotter summers because she has a heart condition,” she said.
“So I can’t just wait for something to happen. I have to keep them cooler and I just have to do it.”
Lenice said her feelings worsened when a worker at the power company made a worrying prediction about her future.
“I pay off $200 every two weeks, and the guy from the electric company actually said to me, ‘All I can tell you is that you’re going to pay off this for the rest of your life,'” she said.
“I can’t pay more.”
However, the family’s plight was alleviated by support from the charity The Smith Family, which provides school children with supplies and support.
Lenice said her family would have struggled to survive without the help.
“I couldn’t afford (living expenses) at all,” she said.
“I couldn’t afford all the children’s books. We couldn’t because I have four children in school. I have two in high school and two in elementary school.”
Australia has seen dramatic inflation over the past 12 months, with groceries like groceries up 10 per cent since 2021, according to the Frugl Grocery Price Index.
The national Treasury Department estimated in October that electricity prices would rise an average of 20 percent in late 2022 alone, before rising another 30 percent in 2023-24.
The Smith family’s primary focus is to help young Australians overcome educational inequality caused by poverty.
The charity launches its Back To School Appeal with more than 6000 sponsors needed for its educational support program, which provides financial, emotional and practical support to underprivileged students, including numeracy, literacy and tutoring programs.
To support the Smith family’s Back-to-School appeal visit: thesmithfamily.com.au/sponsor
Originally posted when Mum was hit with a $1500 bill after being brutally warned by a utility company