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The essentials of life for children

What children are doing without

Children continue to be seriously impacted by restrictions in parental income, with the main impact being felt in the level of disengagement from social and sporting/leisure activities due to the costs associated with such activities (Charts 16).

Over half of respondents indicated they could not afford to provide for their child/ren to attend an out of school hobby or leisure activity, with 37 per cent being unable to subsidise school activities and outings.

“I haven’t paid the school fees yet and have had to stop the kid’s activities such as swimming lessons.” - Respondent comment

Why children don't have these essentials

Households with child/ren represent half of the total cohort of ESIS 2013, and the majority of these children were over the age of seven years. Many of these families will have been impacted by the recent changes to income support payments that have seen single parents of children aged eight years moved to the lower payment rate of the Newstart Allowance. The impact of this change has been clearly articulated by many respondents to the survey:

The level of deprivation experienced by children in general reflects how difficult it is for parents to make ends meet with such restricted economies. Whilst parents strive to protect their children from the impact of these income constraints, this is not always possible. It is of concern, but hardly surprising, that on average only a quarter of children have access to all of the essential items. It is of significant concern that the levels of severe deprivation, expressed as doing without more than five indicators simultaneously, averages at approximately six per cent across the children cohorts. In effect this means that many children are missing out on:

  • In and out of school activities
  • Annual dental checkups
  • New or up-to-date school books and school uniforms

These findings indicate that in many low income households, children’s inclusion in their school and local communities and with their peers is likely to be compromised.

“Due to a change over from single parenting pension to Newstart Allowance, the cut in payments have left me struggling financially, emotionally stressed and depression.” - Respondent comment

“The change with parenting payment to Newstart has greatly affected my family quality of life. Income has been reduced, making it hard to live.” - Respondent comment