Councillor’s motion passed in response to food thefts

Councillor’s motion passed in response to food thefts
Image: Councillor Pauline Lockie and Addison Road Community Organisation CEO Rosanna Barbero. Photo: Councillor Pauline Lockie - Inner West Council/Facebook


A rise in food thefts in Sydney’s Inner West has caught the attention of the Inner West Police Area Command (IWPAC), evoking one Inner West councillor to put forward a motion to urgently help residents who have had to resort to stealing food.

The councillor in question is Independent Councillor Damun Ward (Stanmore), Pauline Lockie put forward the motion on 9th August, which thankfully passed unanimously, after IWPAC informed her of the surge in food thefts. Lockie had also been informed by food pantry charity, Addison Road Community Organisation that more people were seeking food relief.

Cr Lockie noted that the sudden rise in food theft corresponds to the rise in the cost of living expenses, such as energy bills, rent, interest rates and food expenses.

“The rise in food theft is extremely concerning, particularly as it so closely follows so the recent increases we’ve seen in the cost of living,” she told City Hub.

“Together with the rise in the number of people relying on food relief services, it’s a clear sign that a lot of people who were perhaps just managing to hold on after a really tough few years are now being pushed over the edge.”

Lockie had been in contact with the CEO of Addison Road Community Organisation, Rosanna Barbero, who had requested financial aid to help assist with the surge in people seeking food relief.

The number of food hampers within the last six weeks that Addison Road has distributed free of charge rose from 300 to 478 a week. Addison Road also offers $10 vouchers for those who cannot afford to pay for their groceries, and these have risen from 140 to 300 per week.

Cr Lockie acknowledges the hard work put forth by organisations like Addison Road and hopes that her motion will spark further inquiries into this issue on a state and federal level.

Addison Road Community Organisation has seen a rise in requests for food relief. Photo: Addison Road Community Organisation/Facebook

“This is a much broader issue that goes beyond our borders, and if state and federal governments don’t act quickly, a lot of vulnerable people are going to fall through the cracks,” Cr Lockie told City Hub.

“We’re fortunate to have some great support services operating in the Inner West that we already work with, so there’s a lot we can do to help connect our residents to those services, and my motion will see Council investigate those opportunities as a matter of urgency.”

“We also know these organisations and our most vulnerable residents need ongoing financial support, which is where we urgently need state and federal governments to step up and step in.”

City Hub reached out to Addison Road’s CEO, Rosanna Barbero who was pleased with Cr Lockie’s motion passing, saying that “elected representatives are responsible for making policy decisions that ensure people’s human rights and wellbeing.”

“People expect the state to have in place safety nets so their lives and livelihoods are not destroyed when times are tough,” Barbero said.

“Addiroad is already providing vouchers to the police, and civil society organisations to distribute vouchers to those that are most vulnerable, but we cannot sustain this practice because we do not receive government funding despite our proven track record of delivering services and evidence of positive impacts.”

Rosanna Barbero is hard at work with donated goods. Photo: Addison Road Community Organisation/Facebook

“Addiroad [is how] the Council will cover the costs of the $10 vouchers as an emergency measure but we hope the Department of Community and Justice [will] step in and the federal department of Social Services so we can concentrate on achieving great outcomes in addressing food security and not spend so much time fundraising and exhausting the pockets of our generous donors.”

Cr Lockie’s motion also said the council should work with the South Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) in order to establish a coordinated response to the issue.

Barbero encourages those who have resorted to food theft in order to survive or those falling on hard times to come to the food pantry in Marrickville.

“Addiroad has two pantries, all are welcome, we do not judge or ask any questions, you will be welcomed. We have fridge and freezer items and hygiene products, pet food, mostly what you would find in a supermarket, all those that come [will] go home with fresh fruit and veg and bread. We are open 5 days a week,” she said.

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