Christmas has come and gone, but the challenges confronting Australian charities have snowballed into 2023.
Charities offering critical support face growing demand – largely due to the cost-of-living crisis, but also the effects of natural disasters across the country.
Operators are battling to meet this demand in an environment characterised by climbing operating costs and reduced donations.
Those providing food relief services are among the worst impacted.
OzHarvest founder Ronnie Kahn noted that, “In the last four to six months, with the cost-of-living rise, we have seen a 50 to 70 percent increase in demand for our services.”
The ABC recently reported Loaves and Fishes Tasmania, which offers a meal program to those in need, has gone from paying around 50 cents per meal to as much as $4.
This has coincided with a reduction in the donations of fresh produce the charity receives, forcing it to buy these supplies at elevated prices instead.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released data this week showing a 7.3 percent increase in inflation over the year to November, up from a 6.9 percent increase in October.
Significantly, there was a 9.4 percent increase in the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages over the year to November.
Coalition charities spokesman Senator Dean Smith said the Australian charity and not-for-profit sector is caught in a perfect storm.
“This is a brutal cycle: inflated essential goods and services prices resulting in a greater need for charitable support, but the same economic conditions causing both reduced donations and higher operating costs for charities,” Senator Smith said.
“The natural disasters impacting many Australian communities, including those that have devastated the West Kimberley in the first weeks of 2023, have been an aggravating factor – more demand for charity services, and direct and indirect inflationary effects.
“What is missing from this equation is a detailed cost of living assistance plan from the Anthony Albanese, Jim Chalmers and Labor.
“We are also yet to see any effective action taken to address inflation.
“The Albanese Government’s New Year’s resolution should be a simple one – to give the charity sector that serves Australians with such commitment and determination the support it deserves.”