‘Desperate and scared’: More new families needing food and other relief as cost of living bites

Four in every 10 families walking through the doors of Anglicare Victoria’s emergency relief centres in the last 12 months were new faces that have never needed help before, according to new data.

Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said more and more private renters and people with a regular income were being forced to seek help as they couldn’t make ends meet.

“While the cost of living remains high, so will the number of families who are stretched past their pay packet, left with no food in the cupboard and little choice but to seek food relief and other kinds of assistance from agencies like ours,” he said.

The alarmingly high figure of new families reaching out for help (37.2 per cent of clients at Anglicare Victoria’s emergency relief centres in the last 12 months) comes as Anglicare Victoria launches its Winter Appeal this week, with the theme ‘Take Hunger off the Table’.

“We’re also seeing people we’ve helped before come to us more often and in worse situations than they have in the past,” Suzanne Keil, Emergency Relief Services Coordinator at Anglicare Victoria, said.

 “Every family that comes to our emergency relief centres needs help with food. We see mums and dads who are skipping meals, going hungry so the kids can eat. People are feeling desperate and scared.”

It’s a feeling mum-of-two Maria knows well.

Maria was barely keeping her head above water working part-time work in an aged care facility when family violence shattered the lives of her and her children, aged 7 and 12.

Then, as she grappled with reduced shifts and mounting financial pressures, Maria’s car broke down. With no money to fix the car, there was no car to get to work – and no work to pay for bills or groceries.

Fortunately Anglicare Victoria was able to step in, lifting the financial pressure of a food bill each week and keeping the kids’ bellies full.

Now, with a new job, Maria has begun to rebuild her life.

“I don’t know what me and the kids would have done. Being able to access food and groceries through Anglicare Victoria during this period has completely helped us stay afloat,” she said.

“But more than that, it gave me hope.”

Quick data on demand at Anglicare Victoria Emergency Relief Centres 2023/24:

  • $2.03m in food, medicine, clothes and other relief was delivered to people in need in 2023/24, more than double the $874k pre-COVID for the 2019/20 period
  • 53,704 total assists to people in need, again a figure that has doubled from 18,529 in the pre-COVID 2019/20 period. Providing food or medication to a client counts as one ‘assist’.
  • Almost 40 per cent of the 53,704 total assists to people at AV Emergency Relief in 2023/24 were new clients who haven’t needed Anglicare Victoria’s support before

Anglicare Victoria’s Winter Appeal to Take Hunger off the Table launched Tuesday April 9. Donate at www.anglicarevic.org.au.

The new AV Aid van, which will provide mobile food relief to communities in need, also launched on the day.

For more information or to arrange an interview with an Anglicare Victoria spokesperson, or to discuss a case study relevant to the above, please contact the AV media team on 0419 035 117 or media@anglicarevic.org.au.

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