84% of those surveyed are finding it a challenge to meet basic living expenses, including housing, utilities, food and health care, in the past 12 months.
The new Salvation Army research report, released as part of the annual Red Shield Appeal, surveyed more than 1400 people who have called on the Salvos for assistance over the past 12 months.
The research found that after paying for housing costs, 93% of respondents were living below the poverty line, with 75% saying that managing financial stress was one of their greatest challenges, 65% needing to ask for financial help from family and friends and 56% not being able to afford medical or dental treatment when they need it.
“Sadly, almost half of those surveyed have been forced to go without meals due to shortage of money, 36% can’t afford medicines prescribed to them and 32% can’t pay their rent or mortgage on time,” says Major Bruce Harmer, National Public Relations Secretary for The Salvation Army.
“Over recent years, Australians have faced unprecedented economic stress and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and rising costs of living. In addition, we’ve faced fires, drought and most recently floods, putting even more financial pressure on the most vulnerable.”
“Both housing stress and the risk of homelessness is high amongst those who participated in our research, with 78% in housing stress, paying 30% or more of their household income on housing, and 48% in extreme housing stress, paying 50% or more of their household income on housing.”
After paying for housing costs, many households were left with little disposable income – respondents in paid employment were left with just $29 a day to live on after paying for housing, and those on government support payments were left with only $22 a day.
Over the past 12 months, The Salvation Army has seen a significant increase of people who are turning to them for support.
From those who participated in the research, families with children reported significant hardship and negative impacts of COVID-19 on their households, with 87% finding it difficult to meet necessary living expenses in the last 12 months and a staggering 98% living below the poverty line after paying for housing costs.
“Our research has highlighted some extremely concerning statistics, but what’s more important is that each of these figures represents many Australians who are really struggling to make ends meet and to provide the most basic of necessities for their families – housing, medical care, utilities.
“The financial and emotional stress being faced right across our nation is enormous and we’re calling on all Australians to give generously so that we can continue to support the most vulnerable people in the community and help them get back on their feet,” says Major Harmer.
To donate to The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, or if you need support from The Salvos, visit salvationarmy.org.au or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58). You can also donate at any Salvos Store.