Salvation Army's Economic Social Impact Survey: a Tasmanian perspective

The Salvation Army has reported that more than two-thirds of respondents to a client survey say that getting enough food to eat is a daily challenge.

​In the lead-up to Anti-Poverty Week from October 15, the Tasmanian branch of the organisation on Thursday released Tasmanian data from this year’s national Economic Social Impact Survey.

Being able to afford enough food to eat was listed as one of the biggest daily challenges by 72 per cent of respondents, followed by managing their physical health (34 per cent).

Salvation Army state social program secretary, Stuart Foster, said alarmingly 92 per cent of Tasmanian survey respondents reported they were experiencing “extreme housing stress”.

This meant half of their income was going towards housing or accommodation costs.

“From our experience, people’s first priority is accommodation,” Mr Foster said.

“This means people will give up on eating food which then has an impact on their physical health.”

Of the Tasmanian respondents, 50 per cent had been unemployed for more than 12 months, 74 per cent had cut down on basic necessities, and 54 per cent had borrowed money from friends or family.

When they were without money, 51 per cent of respondents admitted that they had gone without food and 23 per cent said they had sold their belongings.

Mr Foster said there should be consideration given to increasing the level of government income support by $50 each week and a continued focus on the provision of affordable housing to suit demand.

Anglicare’s Meg Webb said an affordable home was “the cornerstone of a person’s life”.

“Ensuring access to housing is the single most effective path to better outcomes in health, education, employment, and early childhood development,” she said.

Ms Webb said NewStart and Youth Allowance recipients were often unable to afford their most basic needs.

“Anti-Poverty Week reminds us to look deeper and see that there are structural reasons why people are living in poverty,” she said.

“These income support payments need to be increased as a matter of urgency, so people have a chance to escape the poverty trap”.

TasCOSS chief executive Kym Goodes said Tasmanians were generally working harder but taking home less money.

“Forty per cent of Tasmanians report suffering one or more indicators of financial stress,” she said.

“It is therefore inappropriate to celebrate a rosy economic outlook for our state when so many are yet to benefit from any economic turnaround.”