• Canberra flying our flag
By KIRRALEE NICOLLE
Each year in Canberra throughout May, 100 Salvation Army flags fly along Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue leading up to Parliament House in Canberra during the month of May. This year, however, the display held extra significance.
With interest rates and living costs rising across the nation, Australians everywhere are feeling the pinch. In Canberra, average rental costs sit just below those of Sydney at $784 a week, according to SQM Research. With temperatures dropping, those doing it tough without adequate housing are seeking intervention from charities such as The Salvation Army.
Assistant Public Relations Secretary for NSW/ACT Captain Tara McGuigan said these difficult circumstances made this year’s flag display more pertinent.
“[It] gives people a sense that there’s some place we can go, someone who will help us,” she said. “It's very powerful.”
Tara said staff and volunteers were finding that new struggles were arising among those who visited Salvation Army centres looking for help. She said along with a need for clothing, care packages and assistance to pay bills or find housing, other needs were found to have been neglected in order to survive.
“People are foregoing their medical requirements because they're trying to feed their families and look after their children,” Tara said. “We have store and centre managers who have actually helped to channel them through to doctors and [other] medical appointments.”
She said the flags offered reassurance to those doing it tough.
“The sense of security that people seem to get from knowing the Salvos [are] around is quite incredible,” Tara said. “When people are in that sort of desperate situation and they know they can walk into a Salvo shop or service, it's really good.”
She also said the location of the flags near Parliament House, where Salvation Army government relations and policy and advocacy staff also had their offices, served to further place the work of The Salvation Army directly in front of federal parliamentarians.
“They see the Salvos in Parliament when they're walking the corridors, and then when they come out and see the flags, it's a good reminder for them,” Tara said. “It builds awareness about what goes on [and] that they're serving the community.”