The results of a Salvation Army survey illustrate the difficulties faced by those living on the margins, including many in the Illawarra.
Results of The Salvation Army’s national Economic Social Impact Survey (ESIS) have been revealed.
The survey of 1380 Salvation Army clients reveals that 69 per cent of respondents admit that getting enough food to eat is a daily challenge, and 66 per cent report living under extreme housing stress. Single parents with children are the hardest hit, many living off just $14.35 a day.
Children around Australia are missing out on nutritious food, with two in five clients saying their budget doesn’t allow for fresh fruit and vegetables every day.
Nearly one in four respondents can’t afford three meals a day for their children.
Karen Walker, community fundraising and public relations co-ordinator, Illawarra Regional Office of The Salvation Army said the hardships underlined by these national figures were reflected in the Illawarra.
Mrs Walker said “quite a large number” of Illawarra residents were incorporated in the survey, which she said painted a bleak picture.
“The past probably two months we've seen a huge rise in people coming into our centre for assistance," Mrs Walker said.
“(This is) definitely to do with the basic things like electricity.
“People just can't pay their accounts. And just the basics of food, medication, people are really struggling with.
“Since it's got colder we've seen a lot more people coming in for assistance, even just with things like wanting jackets and blankets, because (there are) quite a few people living around the beaches in shelters, tents and things like that.
“I think it's cost of living and I think also with things like electricity, people are cold and trying to use heating, but then they get massive bills and they just can't ever get on top of that.
“People just seem to be doing it tough and they can't seem to get ahead, I guess just because they're not getting the money in to be able to support themselves and keep on top of things.”
The Salvos’ communications and fundraising director Leigh Cleave said the survey results are a heartbreaking wake-up call.
“What we have to remember is that these aren’t statistics,” Mrs Cleave said.
“Every single number in this survey represents a real person, real families.
“Too many Australians are under enormous financial pressure and are having to make daily decisions about which basic necessity they go without.
“‘Should I pay the rent or buy food for my family?’
“That’s not a choice any Australian should be faced with, but our clients wrestle with it all the time.”