Research conducted by The Salvation Army highlighted that the most vulnerable in our community are struggling to pay for the necessities like housing, food and medications, with more people than ever turning to The Salvos for support.
The Salvation Army research, as part of its annual Red Shield Appeal, was a result of a national survey of its clients who had reached out for assistance from the organisation.
The research found 93% of those surveyed were experiencing housing stress (paying more than 30% of their household income on housing) and of these, 86% were in extreme housing stress (paying more than 50% of their household income on housing).
With the extreme pressures of housing costs at an unprecedented high, those on government support payments are left with $11 a day, and those on minimum wage only $4 a day, after paying for housing. This has meant that The Salvos have seen a six-fold increase in people on wages presenting to its services for help.
“It is absolutely devastating to see the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian community. The past year has shown us that anyone can find themselves in crisis, and this has manifested in The Salvos seeing people we have never seen before coming to us for support,” says The Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle.
The survey found that during lockdown, 87% of respondents found it difficult to meet the basic needs of housing, food, electricity and health, and post-lockdown the situation remains the same for an overwhelming 73%.
In addition, the past 12 months has seen:
45% going without meals
53% not able to afford medical or dental treatment if needed
28% unable to buy medicines prescribed by their doctor
30% not able to afford a home internet connection, impacting the ability to work or learn from home
“With housing stress in this country being at such a high, we are seeing more people becoming homeless. Furthermore, in what is a very lucky country, it is shocking to see almost 50% of people skipping meals and more not able to afford medicines. We need to do better, and The Salvos remain committed to standing alongside Australians now and into the future,” says Major Brendan Nottle.
The research also showed 59% of respondents reporting poor mental health during lockdown, with 40% raising concerns about their mental health post-lockdown – this is significantly up from the 23% reporting poor mental health before lockdown.