Aussies living on $6 a day: ‘I’ve lost 40 kilos’

Have you had to skip a meal, or failed to pay rent? You’re not alone.

·3-min read
A composite image of Australian money and a mother holding her child to represent the rising cost of living for Australians.
The rising cost of living has pushed mroe Aussies to the extreme. (Source: AAP/ Getty)

Tens of thousands of Aussies are plunging into extreme poverty thanks to the rising cost of living, with some households turning to desperate measures to cope, according to new research from The Salvation Army.

In the past 12 months, 93 per cent of those who reached out to The Salvation Army for support were struggling to afford basic living necessities. This means that after paying for essential living costs, such as housing, food, utilities, health and fuel, the typical respondent was living on less than $6 a day to spend or save for other expenses.

More than 1,700 Australians who have used The Salvation Army’s services over the past 12 months were surveyed for the charity’s report.

Former ‘Salvo’ volunteers now seeking support

The research found half of those surveyed (50 per cent) couldn’t afford essential health care, 52 per cent were skipping meals to save money and 75 per cent were experiencing housing stress.

“Everyone is doing it tough at the moment but for those who are already struggling, the cost-of-living crisis is making it almost impossible for them to survive without help,” Salvation Army secretary for mission Captain Stuart Glover said.

“We have seen a significant increase in everyday Australians who have fallen through the cracks over the last year. In many instances, we are seeing those who used to volunteer or donate money and time to help the Salvos now coming to us for help.”

Parents skipping meals to feed kids

Households with children were often the hardest hit from financial pressures, the research found.

Three-quarters of those households were living below the poverty line. Nearly one in four couldn't afford to take their child to see a doctor or a dentist and one in five were unable to provide them with three meals a day.

Many parents spoke of the sheer desperation they were experiencing due to rising housing costs and inflation at the checkout.

"I have lost 40 kilograms in the last nine months because all my money goes on keeping a roof over my kids’ heads and trying to keep them in a safe place,” one 55-year-old mother told The Salvation Army.

“I eat the leftover food from my child’s meal, if there is any, or I just don’t eat,” another parent, 29, said.

“I wait at the school car park from drop-off until pick-up if I’m short on fuel. I have sold most of my own clothing to buy my children clothes,” she added.

Please help, if you can

Despite the hurdles many Australians were currently facing, Captain Glover said The Salvation Army was always there for people during times of crisis.

He urged Australians to dig deep to support the Red Shield Appeal, noting that nearly 90 per cent of respondents said they would not have managed financially without the support of The Salvation Army.

This year’s appeal aims to raise $37 million to help fund more than 2,000 services across Australia.

“The need is greater than ever before. And for many Australians who are doing it tough, the Salvos are often their last line of defence. We will always be there to give them a hand, whatever their circumstances may be, so that nobody has to struggle alone,” Glover said.

“With your support, The Salvation Army will help thousands of people to get back on their feet this year and give them hope for a better future.”

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