Young Australians have revealed the heartbreaking choices they face as a shocking report reveals many live on just $13 a day.
Students told Daily Mail Australia they are forgoing medical treatment to buy food and begging family and friends for ‘donations’ as they are crippled with fear as the pressure of money piles on top of study obligations.
Homelessness Australia this week released the findings of a study that showed the average student tenant on a youth benefit is left with just $13 a day after rent.
The two-year analysis compared student income to the rising cost of renting a shared two-room home across the country.
While total income support payments are up 10 percent in two years, rents are up 24 percent and a young person could now spend 73 percent of their income sharing a two-bedroom apartment.
Psychology student Neha, 21, said she struggled with cost-of-living pressures on Centrelink payments
Macquarie University psychology student Neha, 21, admitted that money stress piled on students who were already afraid of college.
She said the cost of living crisis was a regular topic of conversation among her friends.
“The cost of everything just keeps going up,” she said.
‘It’s really stressful. You just want to go out for dinner with friends, but you have to be so money-conscious, and that only makes the students more worried, who are already worried about assignments and other things.’
Neha said navigating the red tape of applying for child support was difficult, let alone living on it.
“There are so many steps to go through,” she said.
She recently switched from Child Benefit Payment to Jobseeker because her course load changed to part-time, but the opaque process was challenging to navigate.
“I appreciate the fact that money is available through these payments, but it can be very frustrating at times,” she said.
Peak Body Homelessness Australia has urged the Federal Government to increase Child Benefit and Commonwealth Rent Assistance (stock image pictured)
Dan, 24, who studies at Sydney University of Technology, said he sometimes had to choose between buying food, paying rent and medical expenses, such as going to a physiotherapist for an injury.
The medical chemistry student said more than half of his Centrelink payment went towards rent. He added that he was looking for work to supplement his income as the youth allowance was insufficient.
“It covers my rent and utilities and that’s about it,” he said.
Dan, who lives in Marrickville, Sydney’s inner west, said he cooks simple meals at home to save money.
“I eat a lot of regular pasta or vegetables, but no meat because it’s too expensive,” he said.
He said payments like child benefit should be increased “especially now that the cost of everything has gone up.”
Medical chemistry student Dan said the child support payment barely covered his rent and utilities (stock image pictured)
Sofia, 22, who left home at 19, said money was so tight she had to turn to family and friends for help.
Before she changed her study load to part-time and registered for Jobseekers, she received Youth Benefit.
“I’ve gone to friends and family for food donations,” she said.
Sofia said she sometimes struggled to even meet her $200 a week rental requirement in Melbourne’s suburb of Fitzroy.
“Pretty much all my money goes on rent,” she said.
“Last week I actually had $2 to my name for five days.”
Melbourne student Sofia said she had recently tried to survive on ‘$2 for five days’ (stock image pictured)
Frugal tricks young Australians use to survive
I miss catching up with friends.
Don’t buy meat for cooking.
Driving in a car that is almost empty.
Avoid the doctor or other medical specialists.
Getting food “donations” from family and friends.
Sofia said she saw her friends less often, that she had been driving her car with “almost no gas” and that she has “chronic back pain” that she can’t afford.
She works part-time as a counselor for people with disabilities, which sometimes requires her to travel long distances and can put a “hard financial strain” on her.
Sofia wants to see a system that supports young people and is less difficult and ‘traumatic’ to navigate.
“I end up crying when I call Centrelink because it just takes so much energy, and when you’re already pushing uphill and already tired, it’s really frustrating.”
The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that 39,300 children and young people aged 15 to 24 seek help from homelessness services each year.
Kate Colvin, CEO of Homelessness Australia, has urged the Government to increase Child Benefit and Commonwealth Rent Assistance.
“Young people make horrible decisions about what they can afford, including whether they can eat three meals a day,” she said.
The Australian Council for Social Services (ACOSS) has called for an increase in income support to at least $76 a day and a doubling of housing benefit.
Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, has urged Treasurer Jim Chalmers to act on these recommendations in the upcoming May budget.
“In this budget, the treasurer has an opportunity to reduce poverty and suffering in this country,” said Dr. Goldie.
“With three million people living in poverty in Australia, there is no time for delay.”
It is clear that the government will not lift benefits in May’s budget as Labor grapples with a $50 billion structural budget deficit and high inflation.