Sitting in a freezing cold car in the parking lot of your kid’s school for seven hours, terrified you can’t afford the fuel to drive to and from home – only to go without food later to make sure your kids are well fed .
It’s a picture almost unimaginable in 21st century Australia, a country with a GDP of $2.3 billion and 2.2 million millionaires, but for some it’s a daily reality.
Families have shared their grueling stories of surviving on the poverty line, with some living on as little as $6 a day for essential living expenses, including housing, food and bills.
One is a mother who has lost 40 kg in less than a year because she cannot afford to feed her children and herself.
The 55-year-old mother is just one of many struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table as the basic costs of groceries, fuel and living soar.
A new report from the Salvation Army shows Australians are having a harder time than ever due to the cost of living crisis (stock image)
The Salvation Army’s latest survey found that of the 1,700 people using the foundation’s services, 93 percent had difficulty meeting their basic needs.
“I’ve lost 40kg in the last nine months because all my money goes into keeping a roof over my kids’ heads and trying to keep them in a safe place,” the 55-year-old mother explained.
Another mom, 29, revealed they were in a similar boat.
“I either eat the leftover food from my child’s meal, if there is one, or I just don’t eat,” she said.
“When I run out of fuel, I wait in the school parking lot from drop off to pick up. I have sold most of my own clothes to buy clothes for my children.’
Of those using the charity’s services, 50 per cent cannot afford essential health care and just over half skip meals.
More than three out of four people in the report live on an income below the poverty line.
Meanwhile, nearly 90 percent struggled to pay bills, skipped meals, sought financial help, or had to sell their own belongings to make ends meet.
The report found that 80 percent of those living on Centrelink payments were living below the poverty line (pictured shows a man entering a Centrelink branch in Adelaide)
The same figure depended on social benefits, and 80 percent of those receiving Centrelink lived in households below the poverty line.
“An average person receiving the JobSeeker Payment did not have enough money to cover basic household expenses, while those receiving the Parenting Payment were left with $25 a week or less than $4 a day,” the report said.
Australia’s poverty line based on 50 percent of median household income ranged from $489 per week for a single person to $1,027 per week for a couple with two children, according to a report by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and UNSW.
The majority of respondents in the Salvation Army report said they found it difficult to afford groceries, fuel, transportation, clothing and health care, as well as pay their electricity and gas bills.
Rising rents have also taken their toll, with a quarter unable to pay their rent or mortgage and three in five say their rent is unaffordable.
Half of the 1,700 interviewees could not afford basic medical care such as dentists or even prescription drugs.
JOB SEEKER PAYMENTS FROM MARCH 20, 2023
Single, no children
Single, with a child or dependent children
Single, 60 years or older, after 9 consecutive months of continued payment
Single primary carer granted an exemption from reciprocal obligations for one of the following: – Foster care
– non-parental care under a court order
– distance education
Your maximum bi-weekly payment:
As a result of parents struggling to put food on the table, many vulnerable Australians are also experiencing mental health issues.
More than a third of all respondents (37%) experienced persistent loneliness in the past year, and more than half (54%) listed feeling lonely and socially isolated as one of their biggest challenges in the past year. report.
Two-thirds of parents said their mental health had affected their daily lives and 37 percent said their emotions had affected their ability to care for their family.
The Salvation Army Secretary for Mission, Captain Stuart Glover, said donations to the foundation Red Shield profession were needed now more than ever.
As a result of parents struggling to put food on the table, many vulnerable Australians are also experiencing mental health issues (stock image)
“Everyone is struggling right now, but for those who were already struggling, the cost-of-living crisis is making it almost impossible for them to survive without help,” he said.
“We have seen a significant increase in everyday Australians falling through the cracks in the past year. In many cases, we see those who used to volunteer or donate money and time to help the Salvos come to us for help.”
Meanwhile, a million people live below the poverty line in NSW alone, according to research from the National Center for Social and Economic Modeling.
Among them are one in seven children.
Australians most at risk of poverty include renters, single parents, women, students, the unemployed and people with disabilities.