Advocacy, Disability, Employment, Families, Health, Housing, Youth

Empty lunchboxes and no petrol – cost of living crisis hurts regions

Written byChristine Tondorf
Published on19 May, 2023


The cost-of-living crisis is taking a toll on regional Australians, and young people, people with disability and those surviving on income support payments are particularly vulnerable. Social Futures CEO Tony Davies spoke to ABC Statewide about what community service workers are seeing in regional areas.

From empty lunchboxes to no petrol to drive to the school bus stop, Social Futures CEO Tony Davies describes the impact of surging prices on regional people.

The ABC’s Anna Moulder interviewed Mr Davies after a new Salvation Army report revealed that tens of thousands of Australians were sinking into extreme poverty as prices increase, with the most vulnerable forced to take desperate measures to survive.

A surge in poverty in the past 12 months means many are skipping meals as they struggle to afford basic living necessities.

“Everyone is doing it tough at the moment but for those who were already struggling, the cost-of-living crisis is making it almost impossible for them to survive,” said Stuart Glover, the Salvation Army secretary for mission following the release of the report.

A survey of 1700 people who used The Salvation Army’s services over the past 12 months found 93 per cent were finding it tough to afford basic items.

Mr Glover said the typical respondent was living on less than $6 per day to spend or save after paying for their essential living costs, such as housing, food, utilities, health and fuel.

“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,” he said.

The research, released to coincide with The Salvation Army’s annual Red Shield Appeal, also found that more than 50 per cent of respondents were skipping meals and half were unable to afford essential healthcare.

Households with children were often the hardest hit by financial pressures, with three-quarters found to be living below the poverty line.

About 25 per cent also said they could not afford to take their children to see a doctor or a dentist, and 20 per cent were unable to provide three meals a day.

One woman told Salvation Army researchers she had lost 40kg in the last nine months because she could not afford to pay for housing and food.