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“Insurance. Credit cards. Rates. Water bills. Electricity. Health. It goes on and on and on.”
It’s a list that strikes unease for many mortgage holders across the country but it’s a common sentiment shared by so many Australian mortgage holders right now: “there is so much anxiety around it each month,” Andrew Andreou told Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.
Andrew is one of five lucky winners of YBR Home Loans’ Fair Go Giveaway, who told A Current Affair about the stress and suffering his family have experienced each month when their mortgage bill comes through from their lender.
Unfortunately, Andrew and his family are not alone. In the current interest rate environment, the average Aussie home loan has increased by over $12,000 a year, following 11 rate increases in the last 13 months.
Thousands of Australians shared their stories when they entered YBR Home Loans’ Fair Go Giveaway, and how they struggled to cope during the largest rate-hiking period in Australia’s history. Five entrants have won $12,000 each to help families cope with rising mortgage repayments.
A Current Affair was there to capture the moment when YBR’s chairman, Mark Bouris, surprised Andrew and his wife Phyllis, who were extremely grateful to have been drawn as one of the lucky winners across Australia:
“The kids were ecstatic when they heard. They said, ‘Dad we’ve never won anything’,” Andrew told A Current Affair.
“When we receive the monthly letter from the bank, it’s like, here we go again. We need a new plan again, and you start looking at your budget, trying to find where you can make some more savings.”
The Andreous were not alone, with Mark Bouris and A Current Affair also visiting another one of the five lucky winners, Joanne, who was shocked to see Mark Bouris surprise her with a visit.
“Thank you so much,” Joanne told Bouris, “It’s so generous of you and it’s life-changing to me, my husband and Parker (Joanne’s new born baby).”
Bouris reminded the Channel Nine audience that the Fair Go Giveaway was more than just a chance to help out Australian families: “We wanted to give a voice to these individuals and to stop treating households like data points and start treating them like human beings.”
Bouris and YBR Home Loans commissioned a study to analyse the wellbeing of those Australian mortgage holders feeling the pinch of rising interest rates, which culminated in Mark Bouris handing the ‘Human Impact Report’ to the Reserve Bank Governor, Philip Lowe.
Why? In essence, to raise awareness of how families have been struggling in the current environment and to campaign for the RBA to incorporate the human impacts of rate rises into their considerations on monetary policy.
“We’ve sent our YBR Human Impact Report to the RBA Governor to stress to him and give him concrete evidence of the real, human impact on people.”
“He wouldn’t ever get to do what I’m doing here today, to go around and see how people are actually doing, how they’re hurting and probably more importantly, how much more relief they need to get.”
The report outlined how many Australians are feeling the pressure of rising interest rates and included personal stories from participants in YBR’s Fair Go Giveaway.
“People are feeling it,” Bouris said. “Rates aren’t going down and that’s impacting people. It’s impacting their ability to put food on the table, send their kids to school activities or buy presents.”
“When inflation is at record levels, and cost of living pressures spreading insidiously to all aspects of the daily lives of households, the last thing mortgage holders needed was a record setting rate hiking period.”
The Human Impact Report was created in the hope of sparking conversation within government, banking and other organisations about how rising interest rates are affecting Australians.
“It is really important that people understand how hard it is for so many mortgage holders to make ends meet,” Bouris said. “They need relief, not more pressure.”
The Andreous, and the four other Fair Go Giveaway winners, are now enjoying the relief of their $12,000 windfall – something they will never forget: “We can breathe,” said Joanne.
“I can give my kids what they need, because they had to go without for a while,” said Phyllis.
With this money they can continue to focus on providing for their families without having to worry about the rising cost of living. The Human Impact Report may not have been able to stop the increase in interest rates, but it has brought much-needed recognition of the shortcomings of monetary policy. It’s a prime example of how sometimes, a ‘Fair Go’ can go a long way.