15% of renters in Australia are spending more than 60% of their income on rent, and there are people who are having to choose between heating their homes and cooking their food. That was just one outcome of inequality in Australia that was raised during an event at Prahran Town Hall on 15 May, hosted by Uniting Vic.Tas with the support of the City of Stonnington.
A panel composed of Emma King of VCOSS, Emma Dawson of Per Capita, Prof Roslyn Russell of RMIT and economist Jeff Oughton discussed economic factors driving increased demand for emergency relief services. During the discussion, moderated by Prof. Allan Fels AO, the audience heard that:
- One-third of Australians living in poverty have a job
- 1 million Australians currently working would like to have more work-hours to help make ends meet
- 40% of households earning under $40,000 a year have seen their income go down in recent years.
Several panelists noted that poverty is becoming a gender issue. At least 1 in 6 women in Australia are affected by financial abuse. Women who are lone parents feel financial hardship the most and have the greatest difficulty getting back on their feet. The employment sectors with the greatest growth in jobs – such as child care, disability care and aged care – are also among those with workforces that are experiencing high exposure to casual, precarious work. These sectors also have a high percentage of women working in them. The amount of time women spend in their lifetimes in unpaid care work means that women are retiring with low levels of super, a factor which is probably driving the increases in the number of older women requesting emergency relief from organisations like Uniting.
The event was held at the beginning of the Winter Breakfast program, which provides over 4000 hot breakfasts to people in Prahran during the winter months. If you would like to support the Winter Breakfast or Uniting’s other emergency relief services, you can find more information on our Winter Appeal page.