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Young Aussies skipping meals due to financial hardship

Young people walking through city in Australia. Australian money notes. Financial hardship concept.
Most young Aussies experienced financial difficulties during the past 12 months, a new report has found. (Source: Getty)

Young Aussies are going without food and skipping meals because they don’t have enough money, a new report has found.

Monash University’s 2022 Australian Youth Barometer revealed most young people (90 per cent) had experienced financial difficulties at some point during the past 12 months.

The report, which surveyed more than 500 young Aussies aged 18 to 24, found 51 per cent of Aussies didn’t eat for a whole day and 60 per cent had to skip meals at least once in the past 12 months because of a lack of money.

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“There have been quite a few times when I have been down to my last two or three dollars to last me a week and, most of the time, [that] means that I live off a loaf of bread and some two-minute noodles,” a 24-year old ACT man shared in the report.

“Yes, I would say there have been times when I have not been able to eat the food I wanted, if any food at all.”

Other young people shared similar experiences.

“I’ll have a week of being able to eat whatever I want to eat and then, you know, next week, I have no money, so I basically just have to live off bread,” a 22-year-old Victorian woman said.

Concerns about the rising cost of living, housing affordability and a lack of stable and sufficient employment were front and centre for many young people, the report found.

Income support not enough

Income support payments were the primary source of income for several interviewees, the report found, who said this wasn’t enough to cover their living expenses.

“My primary income ... is a disability pension and is not a huge amount,” a 22-year old non-binary person from WA shared.

“I have crunched the numbers and it’s about half of what you would make if you worked full-time on minimum wage.”

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has called on the Federal Government to lift income-support payments, including Youth Allowance, to at least $73 a day to help Aussies cover the basics.

“ACOSS’s own survey of people receiving income supports, including Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy, earlier this year found that people were already being completely crushed by the cost of living before soaring costs of food, fuel, energy and rents this year,” ACOSS deputy CEO Edwina MacDonald said.

“Young people and people who study have the same living costs as everyone else. They still need to find somewhere to live, eat, and pay for transport. But they receive much less than other people receiving income support.”

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