Can’t afford to live


March 1, 2023

Soaring rental and fuel prices alongside rocketing grocery receipts are trapping low-income families in a state of financial distress and pushing many deeper into poverty.

Research conducted by Uniting Vic.Tas and Swinburne University’s Centre for Social Impact, lays bare the devastating effects of the rising cost of living on vulnerable low-income earners across both Victoria and Tasmania.

The ‘Can’t afford to live’ report provides evidence that these rising costs are deepening financial, housing and food insecurity, increasing social isolation and impacting people’s mental and physical health.

The report surveyed 112 people, including those on income support, those working full-time, parents, carers and retirees.

A parent summed up their despair at the rising cost of living, “[The most significant impact is on] my mental health, I feel like a failure as a parent because I can’t afford to care for my children.”

Another parent shared, “We no longer can really afford extras. My children are having to continue missing out on things, simply because I have to buy food.”

Uniting Vic.Tas CEO, Bronwyn Pike said many families are being forced to make impossible choices between everyday essentials.

“People can only live a safe and dignified life if they can afford life’s essentials and can live free from constant worry about how they will keep a roof over their heads and food on their table,” Ms Pike said.

Since the report was published, Uniting CEO, Bronwyn Pike and Manager of Advocacy and Public Policy, Thomas Johnson, appeared before the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the extent and nature of poverty in Australia where they provided further evidence of the daily impacts of poverty and inequality on the people Uniting works alongside. Uniting has also provided a written submission to the Inquiry.

Read the full report

The Can’t afford to live report found:
  • 92% of respondents were cutting back on food and groceries due to costs
  • One in two respondents experienced mental health impacts resulting from the cost of living increases
  • Parents, carers and people with a disability were skipping meals even if cooking for others
  • More than 1 in 10 reported an increased risk of family violence due to the strain of making ends meet.
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