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More Australians Falling Below the Poverty Line: Charities’ Surveys

Surveys from charities have indicated that more Australians are having difficulty paying housing, food, and basic medical care expenses.

The Australian branch of the Salvation Army has witnessed a substantial increase in the number of people asking for help over the past year.

In a survey of more than 1,400 people visiting its emergency relief centres over the past 12 months, the charity found that 93 percent of them were living below the poverty threshold after paying housing expenses.

The figure rose to 97 percent for respondents who relied on government support payments and 98 percent for surveyed families with children.

In addition, after deducting housing expenses, couples with children only had $19 (US$13.3) a day left to live on, while single parents had $22.

Similarly, an analysis by Anglicare Australia, a peak social advocacy organisation, found that after paying essential weekly expenses, a full-time minimum wage worker was only left with $29, while a family of four with two full-time minimum wage workers had no money left. At the same time, a single parent on the minimum wage fell short of $200 to pay for necessities.

Notably, 75 percent of people surveyed by the Salvation Army identified managing financial stress as one of their most significant challenges. Two-thirds had to ask family and friends for financial help, while 56 percent could not afford medical or dental care when needed.

Furthermore, nearly half of the respondents had to skip meals, and almost a third failed to pay their rent or mortgage on time due to a lack of money.

Epoch Times Photo
People queue outside an Australian government welfare centre, Centrelink, in Melbourne, Australia, on March 23, 2020. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

Major Bruce Harmer, the public relations secretary for the Salvation Army, noted that people relying on government support payments were in a grim situation.

More specifically, 88 percent of those people struggled to afford necessities, while 64 percent said one of their most significant challenges was having enough food.

“We’re calling on the next elected federal government to focus on the most vulnerable in society,” Harmer said.

“Being able to meet basic living expenses should be the norm for all in an advanced economy like Australia, and not something we are still discussing in 2022.”

Meanwhile, new polling from Anglicare Australia showed that 65 percent of Australian voters wanted the federal government to raise support payments like JobSeeker to help people keep up with rising living costs.

“Living costs are spiralling. Essentials like food and transport are shooting up, and housing is more expensive than ever, ” Anglicare’s executive director Kasy Chambers said.

“Instead of putting a band-aid over these problems, we need real leadership to fix them once and for all.”


Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne and focuses on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and has two master’s degrees in business and business law. Contact him at


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