The majority of respondents experienced some form of financial hardship and disadvantage. Due to financial hardship:
• 75% of respondents indicated they had cut down on basic necessities
• 68% are stressed about their future
• 59% had either delayed or been unable to pay utility bills
• 57% had gone without meals
• 41% had sold or pawned their possessions.
Over the last 12 months, respondents with limited resources have had to make concessions due to their financial situations. Sixty per cent of respondent’s accessed community support services when in need and 54% have asked for financial help from friends. Many respondents described the necessity to access ER services due to financial hardships. Some respondents described other measures to combat financial stress, such as: 28% took out new debts and 8% tried gambling in the attempt to supplement their income.
Essentials of Life
The Essentials of Life scale provided an indication of the levels of deprivation experienced by the respondents’ household.
The list consisted of 26 items considered essential to everyday life for Australians.
Overall, respondents went without:
• $500 savings in case of an emergency (91%)
• Dental treatment (68%), medical treatment (37%) and buying medicine prescribed by a doctor
• Buying a gift for a friend or family member at least once a year (60%)
• At least one substantial meal a day (25%).
Respondents were significantly impacted by their lack of financial resources. Respondents cut down on essential items in life, including access to medical and health services, household appliances and social and recreational activities. In particular, 52% went without social contact with others, 32% had to do without a washing machine and 31% went without heating/cooling in at least one room due to financial hardship. Limited financial resources led to severe deprivation experienced by respondents.
“I am consistently struggling week to week on financial a basis, even with vouchers…I go without meals most nights to ensure my kids have enough.”
The children of respondents went without:
• Out-of-school activities (65%) and an internet connection (62%)
• Money to participate in school activities (54%) and up-to-date school books (50%)
• Fresh fruit and vegetables daily (34%) and three meals a day (18%)
Results indicated that a significant proportion of children of those receiving ER assistance experienced severe deprivation and went without five or more essential everyday items. Singles with children were the most deprived cohort in the sample. Due to lack of finances, children were excluded from educational, social and recreational activities. This highlights the financial challenges and pressure of raising children with limited financial means for many disadvantaged Australians. The impact of financial hardship on children’s education, academic performance, and social connections is alarming.
“I am in a lot of debt and am currently unable to register my car or pay my bills.”