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,” said Simon Gregory, Public Relations Secretary, Queensland.
The Queensland portion of the research showed similar results, with 9 in 10 respondents experiencing housing stress and 30% reporting that their housing costs exceeded their income.
66% of respondents from Queensland couldn’t pay gas, electricity or phone bills on time, and 73% said that being able to afford food was one of their greatest challenges.
In Queensland last year, The Salvation Army assisted more than 20,000 people for emergency relief, offering nearly 31,000 sessions of care to people in need.
The national 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,” Mr Gregory said.
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.
“The reality is we cannot do what we do without the generous support of the Aussie public. To help us leave no one in need, please consider donating to this year’s Red Shield Appeal”, he said.
Now in its 56th year, The Red Shield Appeal is The Salvos’ flagship fundraising appeal which aims to raise $32 million to fund more than 2,000 centres and services across Australia.
In a typical year, The Salvos across Australia*:
– Provide more than 1 million occasions of care to those in need
– Support more than 40,000 people experiencing homelessness
– Distribute 1.5 million meals through its homelessness services
– Give over 43,000 occasions of care to those experiencing family and domestic violence – Distribute almost $100 million worth of financial assistance to people doing it tough.
“Community need has been exacerbated by COVID-19. We are committed to being here for Australian communities for the long term. Your financial support is needed more than ever. Please donate to our Red Shield Appeal and help us leave no one in need,” Mr Gregory said.