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New data from The Salvation Army highlights the struggles of Australians

6 May, 2012

Disturbing new data from The Salvation Army highlights that Australia's two speed economy does not appear to be slowing.

In the run up to The Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal which happens this weekend (May 19-20), the Salvos polled over 1,700 clients and the data clearly shows the huge struggle many marginalised Australians are facing.

The new poll will reveal 52% have gone without meals and 29% cannot afford a decent meal at least once a day. 59% have cut down on basic necessities, 45% are pawning and selling possessions to make ends meet.

Over a quarter have taken on new debt, 56% have turned to family and friends for financial help in the past 12 months, 33% can't afford heating and over a quarter don't have a washing machine or furniture in reasonable condition.

The Salvation Army says the new research reveals a clear snapshot of what is happening to many Australians who are in crisis. The Salvos help over 1 million people in need every 12 months.

The Salvation Army polled over 1,700 clients over a 2 week period and the results are bound to surprise many.

At a glance the results reveal:

  • 29% (close to a third) can't afford a decent meal at least once a day.
  • 52% had gone without meals and 59% had cut down on basic necessities.
  • Over a quarter don't have a washing machine or furniture in reasonable condition.
  • 45% have revealed they are selling and pawning possessions to make ends meet.
  • A quarter (25%) have taken on new debt.
  • 56% have had to turn to family or friends for financial help in the past 12 months.
  • 33% can't afford heating in at least one room of the house.
  • 37% can't afford medications prescribed by their GP, the same number also can't afford to make regular social contact with people.
  • Nearly half (41%) cannot provide a separate bedroom for each child over 10.
  • 36% cannot afford to pay for children's school outings.

Major Andrew Craib said, 'The increased cost of living has clearly meant larger numbers of Australians are now struggling to keep up with rising utility bills. Many are going without things we take for granted like nutritious food or a warm bed. Many are questioning how they will get through the winter months with what appears to be a never ending increase in the cost of living.'

'We are seeing large numbers of families ' including working mums and dads ' who just cannot make ends meet. A number of these people are making heartbreaking decisions about whether to feed their kids or pay their bills. Without doubt we are seeing more clients suffering from stress and anxiety than ever before.'

'The people we are seeing have issues that are increasingly more complex. They have a large number of debts.'

'All of this indicates people are becoming more and more desperate. They are taking more financial risks just to make ends meet. The stress involved is affecting whole families with relationship breakdown, substance abuse and disruption to school just some of the consequences.'

'For many of the clients who seek the assistance of The Salvation Army, things have not improved over the past twelve months. They are still struggling to forge a way forward. The ever rising cost of utilities, motor vehicle expenses and running costs, food, medical expenses, etc. is intensifying the struggle and they wonder where it will end.'

To enable The Salvation Army to continue to help Australians in crisis, we need your help. 'Our need for funds is desperate. We need as much support as possible to help fund The Salvation Army's social support services. Every donation makes a real difference to help transform lives. Our national fundraising target this year is $81.5 million. Nothing is more certain than the fact that there will be a continued demand for our services in the next 12 months' said Major Craib.

The national doorknock takes place on May 19-20. The Salvation Army is hoping to mobilise 100,000 people nationwide to knock on doors for the Red Shield Appeal. People can donate by calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58) or visit www.salvationarmy.org.au You can also donate to this year's Appeal at any Westpac branch or post a cheque to PO Box 9888 in your capital city.


The Salvation Army ' to launch the data and the Red Shield Appeal Doorknock ' will hold simultaneous media conferences in the following cities (at each conference there will be key Salvation Army personnel plus people The Salvation Army is helping to talk about their difficulties).

 

Sydney:             Media conference to be held at 10.30 a.m. at Sydney Streetlevel Mission, Derby Lane                             (of Albion Street) Rear of 339 Crown Street SURRY HILLS

                          Local contact is Tim Halliburton on 0401 236 877.

Melbourne:      Media conference to be held at 10.30 a.m. at The Salvation Army Melbourne 614                           69 Bourke Street, MELBOURNE CBD

                          Local contact is Major Andrew Craib on 0417 537 950.

Brisbane:         Media conference to be held at 10.30 a.m. in Brisbane.

Launceston:    Media conference to be held at 11.00 a.m. at 16-20 Kay Street, KINGS MEADOWS

                          Local contact is Captain Craig Wood on 0402 256 318

Canberra:        Media conference to be held at 10.30 a.m. in Canberra

Darwin:            Media conference to be held at 10.30 a.m. (NT time) at The Salvation Army Darwin Corps               & Community Centre Cnr Lee Point Road & Yanyula Drive, ANULA

                         Local contact is Major Peter Wood on 0458 600 242

Adelaide:         Media conference to be held at 12.00 p.m. (SA time) at Rundle Mall ADELAIDE CBD                                  (under the Gawler Place Canopy)

                         Local contact is Mr Rod Reeve on 0437 842 238

Perth:              Media comment and photo opportunities available from 9.00 a.m. (WA time)

                         Local contact is Warren Palmer on 0417 909 964

The new Salvation Army data at a glance  over 1700 clients were polled

Over 1700 clients were polled over a 2 week period. Under the general heading of 'Poverty and Acceptable Standards of Living':

  1. 55% (over half) say their current financial situation is worse than the previous year.
  2. 71% feel stressed about the future (the majority).
  3. 52% had gone without meals
  4. 29% indicated they couldn't afford a decent meal at least once a day.
  5. 59% had cut down on basic necessities.
  6. 59% had delayed payment on utility bills.
  7. 35% had delayed payment on rent or mortgage payments.
  8. 33% could not afford heating in at least one room of the house if it were cold.
  9. 56% said they turned to family and friends for financial help and material assistance in the past year.
  10. 30% did not have a decent or secure home.
  11. 35% are unable to fix leaking roof and gutters or have secure locks.
  12. Over a quarter (26%) did not have furniture in reasonable condition or a washing machine.
  13. 14% didn't have adequate warm clothes or bedding for cold weather.
  14. 43% cannot provide new school clothes or up to date school books.
  15. 41% can't provide a separate bedroom for each child over 10.

Regarding areas of deprivation, many individuals and families are on a precarious footing:

  1. 94% had no accumulated savings.
  2. 87% had no home contents insurance.
  3. A quarter (25%) of the sample has taken on new debt.
  4. Nearly half (45%) has resorted to selling or pawning possessions to make ends meet.
  5. The number of people supplementing their income through gambling has clearly increased (9%).
  6. 9% have attempted to supplement income by gambling.
  7. 57% of adults could not afford dental treatment.
  8. 42% couldn't afford dental treatment for their children.
  9. 37% said they couldn't afford medications prescribed by their GP.

Social Exclusion

  1. 37% could not afford to make regular social contact with other people.
  2. 51% said they couldn't afford presents for family or friends.
  3. 58% (over half) could not afford an out of school leisure or hobby activity for their kids.
  4. 36% couldn't afford to pay for their children's activities in school outings/activities.
  5. 89% do not take a week's holiday away from home each year.

For more information please contact:

The Salvation Army, Australia Southern Territory
Territorial Communications & Fundraising Department, 95-99 Railway Road, Blackburn VIC 3130
T: 03 8878 2400
E: salvosaus@aus.salvationarmy.org