Surge in Aussies sinking into extreme poverty: report

·2-min read

Tens of thousands of Australians are sinking into extreme poverty amid the cost-of-living crisis, with the most vulnerable forced to take desperate measures to survive, a report says.

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

"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," Stuart Glover, the Salvation Army secretary for mission, said on Wednesday

"We have seen a significant increase in everyday Australians who have fallen through the cracks over the last year."

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.

"All my money goes on keeping a roof over my kids' heads and trying to keep them in a safe place," the 55-year-old said.

Another mother, aged 29, said she could not afford food for herself and was selling off her personal possessions to pay for her children's basic needs.

"I eat the leftover food from my children's meals, if there is any, or I just don't eat," she said.

"I wait at the school car park from drop-off until pick-up if I'm short on fuel (and) I have sold most of my own clothing to buy my children clothes."

Mr Glover urged Australians to dig deep to support the Red Shield Appeal.

"The need is greater than ever before," he said.

This year's appeal aims to raise $37 million to help fund more than 2000 services across Australia.

The Red Shield Appeal national doorknock takes place on May 20 and 21.