who can get emergency relief?
In theory, anyone experiencing financial crisis or unexpected hardship can get emergency relief. Some services make a point of being available to anyone in an emergency who walks in off the street. However, the reality is that demand is greater than supply: there are not enough resources to support all of those who need it. Because resources are limited, most services place conditions and restrictions on who and how often they can help.
Many services are limited to people who live in the local area. These services will typically require people to produce ID that shows a local residential address to qualify. Others may instead ask for a Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card before they provide emergency relief. In addition, many places will require you to go to an interview with a social worker.
If possible, it is a good idea to phone ahead to find out what sort of identification or documents the service requires. Otherwise, you may go to the wrong place and be sent somewhere else.
Some drug and alcohol users say they are treated like second-class citizens when they try to apply for emergency relief and material aid. Unfortunately, whether you have a good or a bad experience largely depends on who you get at the time. Many emergency relief services are run by elderly volunteers, who may not have had any formal training in dealing with drug and alcohol issues. What state you're in when you approach the volunteers might also affect how you're treated.
There is a diverse set of emergency relief services to choose from, including more traditional sources of aid such as The Salvation Army and more radical groups such as Food Not Bombs. You may find that there are different groups whose ethos and approach suit you better than others. See the 'Victorian Emergency Relief Providers' section of this website to find an appropriate service near you.
Everyone has a right to access services, and to be treated with dignity and respect when dealing with emergency relief providers. If you believe that you have been discriminated against, you are encouraged to make a formal complaint in order to help improve services for other people in the future (see Section 14 'Making a Complaint').