HIGH unemployment rates in Cairns are feeding a spike in the number of people declaring bankruptcy or being black-listed by credit agencies.
The latest figures from the Federal Government’s Australian Financial Security Authority revealed an uncomfortable truth – Cairns residents were twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as someone living in Brisbane.
Former debt collector and Cairns resident Laurence Barlow, who now works to help people remove themselves from credit blacklists, said one in five people in Cairns had been banned from borrowing with mainstream financial lenders because they had been late, or hadn’t paid bills from mobile phone companies, utilities or credit providers.
Mr Barlow said the situation was compounded in Cairns because there were so many young people out of work.
The city’s youth unemployment rate sits at 26.7 per cent and the overall unemployment rate has risen from 7.9 per cent to 8.6 per cent in the past 12 months – equating to an extra 1000 people out of work.
“A lot of young people get into trouble with mobile phone plans and they don’t realize telcos can be so brutal,” Mr. Barlow said.
“With an overdue bill of as little as $150 you can be in the financial sin bin for five years.”
Jodie Logovik runs Lifeline’s Financial Wellbeing service and said in the past six months the Cairns counselors had helped more than 300 people with money troubles.
“Unfortunately the demand far outweighs the service we can provide, especially in areas like Cairns, Townsville and Mackay,” she said. “We’re seeing increasing costs of living and decreasing incomes where people are losing their jobs or being put on part time.”
People needing help can phone Lifeline’s National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to book a free financial counseling session.
– “Cairns people twice as likely to go bankrupt compared to southerners” by Jim Campbell,
The Cairns Post http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/cairns-people-twice-as-likely-to-go-bankrupt-compared-to-southerners/news-story/fefb0630a9bd51da64fb2a73305f8a12