Aussies are cutting down on basic necessities amid rising costs of living

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Christmas Foods
Christmas items are displayed at a Sainsbury's store in London, Britain December 3, 2015. Reuters/Neil Hall

The rising costs of living have forced some Australian single parents and families to go without food and skip appointments with health professionals. There are Aussies who fall into “situational poverty,” an independent national study has found.

The Salvation Army has conducted a study, learning that 56 percent of Aussies said they had to significantly cut down on basic needs such as food. Thirty-two percent of respondents said the rising prices of basic essentials and utilities were to be blamed for the financial challenge.

Unexpected situations are reasons families fall below the poverty line. These include a recent divorce or a utility bill that has gone too high. Those who catch themselves in situational poverty spend most of their money paying rent or mortgage. There are some who could not afford to buy food or other needs like dental medication or pay utility bills.

Dr Elli McGavin, Salvos social policy and program development manager, said the increase in cases of situational poverty cause more Aussie families to seek help from The Salvation Army. Recipients of income support had about $17.14 per day for disposable income after the bills are paid, the study finds. The situation is even worse for single moms and dads left with only $14.35 per day.

Keeping up with daily expenses

Unemployment and skyrocketing expenses were making it hard for those on an average or below average wages to deal with daily costs, according to Claire Madden, a social researcher. She said that unemployment is the top overall predictor poverty for Aussies.

“While the unemployment rate in Australia has remained quite steady at about 5.4 percent, underemployment rates have been particularly high this year, reaching a record high of 8.9 percent in February and now at 8.4 percent,” reports Madden as saying. She added that it meant over one in eight Australians either could not find work or need additional work.

Madden said that poverty is a complex issue as it impacts access to secure and suitable housing, food and health services. Poverty, she pointed out, also creates stress, which could be risky to a person’s health.

The Salvation Army calls for the public to consider community members of all ages when making a donation to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal, their partner charity. “We are encouraging Australians to also think about the mothers, fathers and elderly who receive support from the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal,” it said.

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