Gary’s story

Photo of Gary in his social housing apartment. Man speaking to an interviewer, wearing glasses and a tshirt.

Gary is a volunteer with Communify’s neighbourhood centre in Bardon, helping out at the pantry and with community events.  He has a disability and lives in a large social housing block of units.  


“We get the breads and sweets or like through Second Bite and Oz Harvest. The purpose of the pantry is we help a lot of people who need food, veggies, bread, and we have got cold goods in the fridge. It’s usually one big thing or a small thing, if it’s meals or anything like that. We give them out.”


Gary loves helping out and appreciates the support he also receives. 

“I can’t read and write, I have to get everything read to me by my support worker. I know it’s a bit difficult for me, because I’ve got that intellectual disability, of reading and writing. But I’m good at other things. Like I’m good at the pantry. I’m a good volunteer with barbecue, all sorts of things that I love helping  with and I enjoy the community.”


But he is really concerned about the rising costs of living, both for his friends and the people he is meeting through the neighbourhood centre. 

“It’s just crazy what ‘s happening. The prices are going up. And yeah, no wonder people are struggling.”


He is also finding it tough, and like many of his friends, the free goods and groceries from the community pantries are helping him manage his pension too. 


“Usually, I have about nearly $60 or $80 left to last me a fortnight. Like I mean, I’ve got a I’ve got plenty of food, I’ve got plenty of things but I don’t want to go and buy junk food.” 


This helps Gary pay for his rising bills, but he would love to have access to solar and other things to help him manage his energy and save on bills. 


“I live in Brisbane housing, and it’s supposed to be affordable rent. And when your pension goes up, the rent goes up. And it’s just getting beyond the affordable housing.”


“It’s just crazy. The power bill. I mean, I pay $25 a fortnight. Yeah, every time. I’m in credit at the moment, but it’s getting too high, even with the gas bill. I mean, we used to have an $8 subsidy to do with Brisbane house and that’s long gone. I wish we did have solar panels at the Brisbane housing, it would make a lot of difference. It would make a cost difference. It would help.


I would save a lot of energy. I mean, I don’t know why Brisbane housing hasn’t done it.”