The Salvation Army Ballarat is calling for an increase to the Newstart Allowance and emergency relief funding for front-line agencies in the lead up to the federal election.
The call comes after the organisation revealed it provided tens of thousands of dollars worth of support to members of the Ballarat community in February and was unable to keep up with the demand for appointments.
Salvation Army Ballarat team leader John Clonan said the demand for emergency relief was consistent but staff and volunteers were finding they were turning more people away seeking appointments each day.
"We only have a certain number of appointments for each day. People are presenting and we can provide them with food but we don’t have enough appointment times and enough workers to provide more assistance for them," he said.
"That is always a pressure on us as an organisation… Our full time financial counselor has a two or three week wait list."
Data shows Salvation Army Ballarat emergency relief provided $4,150 worth of food vouchers, $7,505 worth of Salvos Store vouchers and $2,500 other forms of support to 310 clients in February, benefiting 875 family members experiencing financial crisis.
The organisation's financial counselor worked with four clients and began working with 10 new clients throughout the month.
Our full time financial counselor has a two or three week wait list.John Clonan, Salvation Army Ballarat
Mr Clonan said people were presenting with more complex financial issues, with utility payments a consistent area of concern.
"We are having to advocate for people with utility companies in respect to getting people on payment plans or delaying their payment," he said.
"People who borrow with payday lenders is also a consistent issue. They are forced to pay back their loan with exorbitant rates of interest."
Further data collected shows the Salvation Army Ballarat grocery box program provided a value of $14,800 worth of donated food and $700 worth of donated products to clients in February.
Meanwhile, 22 volunteers and eight staff working at Salvos Cafe 102 provided 917 meals to community members during this period.
Mr Clonan said the cost of fees, books, technology and uniform with children returning to school in January and February increased pressure on family budgets, paired with a hot summer and high utility bills to run air-conditioning.
He noted part-time and casual employment, family relationship breakdown, lack of affordable housing and the low rate of Newstart and other government allowances as causes for increasing pressure on households.
Salvation Army will be advocating for an increase in federal government emergency relief funding to meet increased demands and pressure on agencies in the lead up to the election.
"Our staff are part time. If we had more staff we might be able to meet the unmet demand of our clients presenting," he said.
The Red Shield Appeal in May and 3BA Christmas in July Appeal will help support Salvation Army to meet demand in coming months.