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Christmas need is greater than ever with widespread financial hardship

12 December 2019

The Salvation Army says it’s expecting to help more people than ever before this Christmas, due to the impact of the bushfire crisis, the unrelenting drought and new research showing one in five Australians are worried about how they will pay for Christmas expenses.

The Salvos' research, undertaken by Roy Morgan for The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal, also reveals:

  • More than 45% report experiencing social isolation, anxiety, depression and or fear of abuse at Christmas
  • Two thirds (64%) said Australians are losing the meaning of Christmas
  • One in three (32%) feel pressured to spend more than they can afford at Christmas
  • Over 12 million (65%) Australians said the Christmas period adds extra strain to their finances
  • Almost 6 million (29%) Australians feel some level of loneliness or social isolation during the Christmas period

Salvation Army spokesperson Lauren Martin says the ongoing drought described as the worst in living memory is having far-reaching impacts in many parts of Australia. “We’re supporting farmers that have no water coming out of their taps, farmers that have been hit by a double disaster of fire and drought, and rural communities that are feeling the pinch as cashflow has all but ceased in these shrinking economies.

“At the same time, we still have families who are struggling financially in cities and urban areas all across Australia who are facing a bleak Christmas. The Roy Morgan research also suggested that almost half (48%) of those surveyed said that Australians don’t do enough to help those in need at Christmas”.

“We have a very generous country but the need is great this Christmas. We can all play a significant part in making things better for people experiencing hardship. We rely on the support of generous Australians in order to give hope where it’s needed most this festive season.

The Salvation Army is encouraging Australians to give to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal, a gift of $29 will enable the Salvos to put food on the table and presents under the tree for Aussies in need.

The Roy Morgan poll found that more than 15 million Australians (76%) say connecting with family is what they like most about Christmas, yet six million Australians (32%) surveyed said they still feel pressured to spend more than they can afford during the festive season.

“We are urging Australians to make every effort not to go into debt over the Christmas period, and if people are struggling, to come and see us at the Salvos,” says Lauren Martin.

“More than ever, we need to get back to the true meaning of Christmas. The values of peace, joy and hope are what traditionally symbolises Christmas time and we need to remember to prioritise relationships. This can mean connecting with friends and family as well as your local community. It is so important at this time of the year to connect with each other.”

The Salvation Army assists 300,000 Australians each year at Christmas time, distributing over a million toys and gifts and serving more than 100,000 meals. “Financial stress and loneliness hit harder at times like Christmas, that’s why at The Salvation Army we hold hundreds of community meals, family-friendly Christmas events and services where people who are lonely can connect with us,” says Lauren Martin.

“Please don’t spend Christmas alone – come and spend it with us instead!”

You can find out ways to connect with The Salvation Army over Christmas by visiting

$29 will put food on the table and a present under the tree for those in need this Christmas.

To donate $29 and give hope where it’s needed most this Christmas, please donate here or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).

Research at a glance:

  • 92% said that the Christmas period is important to some degree
  • 65% think Australians are losing the true meaning of Christmas
  • 76% say connecting with family and friends is what they like the most about the Christmas period
  • Almost 8 million Australians (48%) have donated money to a charity and / or volunteered their time to help someone in need last Christmas
  • 52% Did not donate money to a charity or volunteer their time to help someone in need last Christmas
  • 50% agree that most people don’t do enough to help Australians in need at Christmas time
  • 46% agree that Christmas is the most stressful time of the year
  • 51% did not know anyone who was feeling isolated or lonely last Christmas
  • 20% tried to help someone who was feeling isolated or lonely last Christmas by inviting them to a Christmas meal
  • 45% had negative experiences during the last Christmas period. These included stress (32%), anxiety (21%), depression (14%), social isolation (10%) and fear of emotional or physical abuse (2%)
  • 29% or almost 6 million Australians feel some level of loneliness or social isolation during the Christmas period
  • 29% or almost 6 million Australians do not know where to turn to for emotional support during the Christmas period
  • 19% are worried about being able to pay for Christmas Expenses this year
  • 65% feel some level of extra strain in their finances during the Christmas period
  • 32% feel pressured to spend more than they can afford at Christmas
  • 15% or almost 3 million Australians are likely to go into debt in order to be able to afford to pay for Christmas gifts, events and / or holidays this Christmas period

Note: The Roy Morgan research involved 1,002 respondents, representing 19.8 million Australians aged 18 years or above.

The Salvation Army Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet and work and pay our respect to Elders past, present and future.

We value and include people of all cultures, languages, abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and intersex status. We are committed to providing programs that are fully inclusive. We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of people of all ages, particularly children.

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The Salvation Army is an international movement. Our mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name with love and without discrimination.

13 SALVOS (13 72 58)

Gifts of $2 or more to the social work of The Salvation Army in Australia are tax deductible.Details and ABNs

Hope where it's needed most