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In 2013, The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory (AUS) [9] and Australia Eastern Territory (AUE) [10] conducted the second national ESIS survey to highlight the impact of cost of living pressures on individuals and families who access emergency relief and community support through Salvation Army services.

The survey aimed to provide information about the people seeking support and assistance and the levels of deprivation and exclusion, both economically and socially, experienced by these individuals.

The questionnaire reviewed and refined the 2012 version, including indicators of disadvantage and social connectedness, in addition to questions of financial impact.

Street Outreach

Survey Questionnaire

The survey questionnaire comprised four parts:

  1. respondent demographics;
  2. impact of financial situation;
  3. social supports; and
  4. the Essentials of Life scale.

Part One (About You) is a set of demographic questions asking people to describe their personal and family circumstances and living, housing and income situations.

Part Two (Your Financial Situation) is a set of three statements asking respondents to rate how they perceive their current and future financial situation. It asks respondents to nominate what they have had to do, or do without, as a consequence of their financial situation over the past 12 months.

Part Three (Your Social Supports) is a set of three statements requiring respondents to rate their level of agreement or disagreement against a seven point scale. The statements described how much support they get from other people and are based on the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey (Wave 11 Self Completions Questionnaire B17) [11].

Part Four (The Essentials of Life) is based on the indicators of disadvantage developed by Saunders, Naidoo and Griffiths (2007) [12]. This list of 26 items represents those services, items, activities or opportunities that are considered essential in Australia today [13]. Participants were asked to indicate for each item whether or not they had the item, and if they did not have the item, whether this was because they could not afford it or because they did not want it.

Survey process

The survey questionnaires were distributed nationally through 237 Salvation Army services providing emergency relief and community support during the period 4 March to 15 March 2013. 

The questionnaires were paper based and participation was voluntary.  Although the questionnaire was developed for completion by individuals themselves, centre staff and volunteers were advised that some people may require assistance and that this should be provided.

Data entry and report

Completed questionnaires were manually entered into a secure database for nominal and ordinal review and initial analysis.  Emerging themes were identified based on the responses of participants. 

The survey data, supported by respondent comments, was analysed to investigate the levels of deprivation and disadvantage of individuals accessing The Salvation Army emergency relief centres.

[9] The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory (AUS) includes Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

[10] The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory (AUE) includes New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.

[11] The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute).

[12] Saunders, P. Naidoo, Y. & Griffiths, M. (2007)  Towards New Indicators of Disadvantage: Deprivation and Social Exclusion in Australia.  Social Policy Research Centre, Sydney, NSW.

[13] Saunders, P. (May, 2007) Towards New Indicators of Disadvantage Project.  Bulletin No.2: Deprivation in Australia. SPRC Newsletter No. 96.  Social Policy Research Centre, Sydney, NSW.