Buckling under the stress

NO VACANCY: Garages become bedrooms. Photo: Contributed
NO VACANCY: Garages become bedrooms. Photo: Contributed

CRITICAL housing shortages and affordability problems in Moranbah are creating a raft of social issues for residents.

Divorce and relationship breakdowns run rampant in the town struggling to cope with the booming resource sector's urgent need for workers, according to Emergency and Long-term Accommodation in Moranbah manager Kell McKenzie.

The ELAM centre currently has more than 30 applications from women whose relationships have buckled under the financial stress of paying rent, and there is nowhere for them to go in the short term.

"Families are making the move to places like Moranbah to earn more money for their families, but when they have to pay $1000 a week in rent, their pay isn't as much," Mrs McKenzie said.

"Add to that the cost of living and there's even less coming into the household.

"When the wife or partner takes a job, that impacts on the man because suddenly he is faced with the thought he's not man enough to provide for his family."

But there exists the other side of the issue too, she said.

"Families that have gotten used to living apart now find themselves in the same house, and adjusting to that after living separate lives puts a real strain on relationships as well," she said.

Alcoholism, she said, was "standard" for mine workers coming off their rosters.

"These workers finish work, go get their cartons and pull up in their front yards and start drinking, often times well into the day or night, depending what shift they've just done," Mrs McKenzie said.

"Not only is that bad for them, their neighbours who most likely also work in the mines are probably on a different shift, trying to get some sleep while they're being loud."

Mrs McKenzie conceded while it was not a problem unique to Moranbah, it was a concern for the town.

She said population projections of 16,000 within the next five years would deliver a "devastating blow" to the social fabric of the town, and the existing social problems would be amplified.

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