It’s the season of giving, but this year many can’t afford to.
With the spiralling cost of living stretching household budgets to the limit this Christmas, many Australian families who previously contributed to charities will instead be relying upon them.
New Salvation Army research reveals more than two million Australians will be reaching out to charities for support this festive season.
It found that 99 percent of its clients are worried about how they will pay for Christmas, while six in 10 will struggle to afford presents for their children.
The Salvation Army’s Major Bruce Harmer said the not-for-profit organisation was experiencing a “tsunami of need” and is deeply concerned to hear about the agonising choices everyday Australians are being forced to make.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Senator Dean Smith echoed these concerns as Christmas approaches.
“Cost of living pressures are bearing down on Australians right across the nation – whether it’s at the bowser or the supermarket, or paying their rent,” he said.
“At a time when people should be enjoying themselves with family and friends, they are instead having to face some very harsh realities.
“This is compounded by a lack of adequate cost of living support from the Albanese Government, whose recent Budget let down struggling Australians.”
Foodbank, Australia’s largest food relief organisation, reports that people are seeking help earlier than usual, as surging costs combine with the usual end-of-year demands on family budgets.
CEO Brianna Casey said the organisation has also seen a noticeable shift in the types of people needing assistance – noting many customers have never needed food relief before.
Western Australian suicide prevention service Lifeline WA has been swamped with financial distress calls, again prompted by mounting cost of living pressures.
The organisation recently revealed it received close to 290 calls, texts and web chats from Western Australians in distress every day in November, representing the busiest month in Lifeline WA’s history.
A total of 8,647 crisis alerts across 30 days was an increase of 66 percent compared to November last year.
“Charities are on the frontline of support for the most vulnerable in our communities,” Senator Smith said.
“As the cost of living crisis continues, the need for these support services is rising rapidly.
“A meaningful plan to ease these pressures, rather than spin and broken promises, is required.
“That’s what Anthony Albanese should be doing for Australians this Christmas.”
Meanwhile, Senator Smith called on Australians doing it tough to share their experiences by making a submission to the Senate Cost of Living Committee.
“Prior to holding hearings around Australia next year, we want to hear from as many people as possible about the challenges they are facing and what we can most effectively do to assist them,’ he said.