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Executive Summary

The Salvation Army Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS) for 2013 received a total of 2,705 surveys nationally from respondents accessing the organisation’s emergency relief and community support services. The survey provides a snapshot of the impact of cost of living pressures and the extent of social and economic deprivation and disadvantage experienced by these individuals and their families.

The Salvation Army’s second extensive Economic and Social Impact Survey paints a bleak picture of everyday life for many people in our communities. This report highlights that a significant proportion of people accessing The Salvation Army emergency relief and support services are struggling to meet routine expenses and financial commitments. The striking similarities between this report and the 2012 report, in relation to both the demographic profile and the indicators of deprivation and disadvantage, show that little has changed for this portion of the population. What is clear in ESIS 2013, and supported by the many respondent comments, is that despite their struggles, people want to work and want to provide a more sustained and adequate standard of living for themselves and their children.

Worried man

"The feeling of going backwards fast is, at best, overwhelming."

- Respondent

Key Results

  • 51% of respondents have gone without meals
  • 58% of respondents are unable to pay utility bills on time
  • 92% of respondents have litt le or no savings in case of an emergency
  • 53% of respondents cannot aff ord presents for family

The impact of inadequate economic resources is wide ranging and complex. Poverty and disadvantage have multiple causes and impacts effecting both individuals and families.  The constant struggle to maintain an ‘adequate’ standard of living requires mediating expenses (e.g. bills, rent, food, etc.) within an extremely tight budget without access to emergency funds if anything goes wrong. Restricted economic circumstances compromise social connections for all involved and impacts health and wellbeing, thereby decreasing social links and personal capabilities. Job search and employment capacity appears to be compromised for many. This is not just a factor of low income security. Employment capacity is also impacted by health, caring responsibilities, educational levels and experience. ESIS 2013 however indicates that despite the availability of services to address job search and employment capacity, these strategies are not working for those individuals signifi cantly disadvantaged within the community. As such, for many, there is little room to move forward and no capacity to move up and out of disadvantage.

The Salvation Army has an extensive history and an international reputation for working with the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in our communities. The Salvation Army Australia through its emergency relief services, corps and social programs, and employment services provides a signifi cant and comprehensive response to individual and community disadvantage. This response is predicated on the need to respond to and address the multiple layers of disadvantage for individuals and their families.

The Salvation Army endorses the respondent comment that gave rise to the title of this report. It is not asking too much to want a job, to have the means and capacities to provide an adequate standard of living for a family and to participate as an active, valued and positive contributor to the local and broader Australian community.

Download the full report (PDF)