Two-thirds of disadvantaged families struggle to feed their children a balanced meal because they can’t afford to, according to a study led by The University of Western Australia. Of these families, adults had lower food security than children, sometimes sacrificing food or going hungry in order to feed their children.
The 100 Families WA study, which aims to understand disadvantage and poverty, found around 80 per cent of disadvantaged households did not have stable access to food that met their nutritional requirements.
Professor Paul Flatau, Director of the UWA Centre for Social Impact, said the goal was to make a difference to the lives of families by supporting them to help them break free of entrenched disadvantage.
“Families involved in this study have bravely shared real-life experiences,” Professor Flatau said. “We hope this helps shines a light into what families want to achieve and what factors are limiting opportunities and positive social change.”
The Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) Chief Executive Officer, Louise Giolitto, said the initial findings painted a stark but not surprising picture.
“The data confirms the key driver of food insecurity is poverty – low income and inadequate social security payments,” Ms Giolitto said.
“Some households are forced to choose between heating and eating and this is resulting in parents going without meals so that their children are not hungry. It’s very concerning; given the range of consequences food insecurity has on social isolation, health, education, and work outcomes.”
100 Families WA is a collaborative research project between UWA and eight not-for-profit organisations in the community services sector. The project was launched in May 2018 and will continue until 2022, with a baseline study involving 400 families, and in-depth interviews with 100 families.
The UWA Centre for Social Impact, UWA Social Policy Practice and Research Consortium, WACOSS, Anglicare WA, Ruah Community Services, Wanslea, Jacaranda, Centrecare, UnitingCare West, Mercycare and are collaborative partners in the project.
The initial findings are part of a wider report of the baseline findings, due to be released in August.