More than 40 per cent of Australians seeking emergency assistance forced to skip meals, survey reveals

The number of people seeking assistance from The Salvation Army has increased six-fold between November 2020 and January this year.

New modelling has warned about the impact of changes to the JobSeeker payment.

Meanwhile the number of people seeking assistance from the Salvation Army increased six-fold between November 2020 and January this year. Source: AAP

More than 40 per cent of Australians who received emergency support from the Salvation Army have been forced to skip meals over the past year to make ends meet, a new report from the aid organisation has revealed.

Meanwhile, the number of people seeking assistance from the Salvation Army increased six-fold between November 2020 and January this year, according to the survey released on Wednesday. 

The organisation, which supports people living in poverty across Australia, also found 53 per cent of survey respondents did not have the means to afford medical or dental care, while almost 30 per cent were unable to afford their prescribed medicine. 

Advertisement
There are also high levels of housing stress among recipients of support, with 93 per cent of the 955 people who responded to the survey experiencing housing stress - defined as the cost of accommodation exceeding 30 per cent of their income.



Respondents on government support payments reported having just $11 a day left over after paying for housing, the Salvation Army said. 

“The past year has shown us that anyone can find themselves in crisis, and this has manifested in The Salvos seeing people we have never seen before coming to us for support,” said Major Brendan Nottle, from the Salvation Army.

The number of people struggling to afford housing, food, electricity, and healthcare spiked at 87 per cent during COVID-19 lockdowns across the country, before dropping to 73 per cent.



“In what is a very lucky country, it is shocking to see almost 50 per cent of people skipping meals and more not able to afford medicines. We need to do better,” Major Nottle said.

The government increased the rate of the JobSeeker unemployment support payment by $50 a fortnight earlier this year.

But when the coronavirus supplement ended on 1 April, welfare payments fell by $100 per fortnight.

Modelling from earlier this year estimated the loss of the coronavirus supplement would . This would include an estimated 18,000 children, progressive think-tank the Australia Institute said.



It also estimated there were about 580,000 more people living in poverty at the beginning of this year, compared to before the pandemic.

The Salvation Army survey was conducted between October last year and February and asked people who had received its emergency support services to voluntarily participate.


SHARE
3 min read
Published 26 May 2021 at 2:12pm
By Maani Truu
Source: SBS