For too many people food and groceries are an optional extra. As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, more and more people are skipping meals to pay their rent, power and other bills. Many are turning to local charities for food relief, for the first time in their lives, and local food banks are struggling to keep up with demand, often running out of basic staple items. That’s why we have just boosted funding to 10 food relief programs, distributing a total of $80,000 so that people in acute hardship can be supported. We are continuing this support and are calling on you, our network, to join us and give what you can, or share with your networks.
With support from our regular donors to the SmartMeals program, and corporate support we have just made seven grants to provide food relief to people experiencing acute disadvantage while supporting employment and training opportunities.
It’s been a special year for our annual DineSmart campaign which celebrated two decades of collaborative impact with the hospitality industry. Last month we held a 20th Anniversary Fundraising Dinner to recognise this incredible milestone and scale up the impact of the fundraising throughout DineSmart December. The event was a roaring success and has brought this year’s DineSmart tally to $176,723 in funds for employment, training and education programs for vulnerable people.
We know that young people are disproportionately impacted by the current housing crisis and face multiple barriers to securing any kind of accommodation. The result is rising youth homelessness. Currently there is no national strategy or adequate funding to address this situation for thousands of our young people. That’s why in April we raised funds to support three youth services in regional centres.
The immediate impact of this rental and cost-of-living crisis is that more people are experiencing homelessness and housing stress, seeking assistance from already stretched community services. Our community partners are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of renters who cannot access or afford housing in the open market, or have been evicted. People have little choice but to move into inadequate or unsafe marginal housing such as rooming houses, emergency motels and caravans. That’s why $80,000 worth of grants has been directed to helping people into affordable appropriate housing, or maintain a successful tenancy, and to reach, assist and care for people in poor housing situations.
In December, restaurants and diners alike rallied around DineSmart to support disadvantaged people into life-changing programs. We know that already disadvantaged groups, including at-risk youth, migrants and refugees, and older women have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID pandemic and continue to experience barriers to employment. To respond to the ongoing challenges our recent DineSmart campaign has raised funds to target support to smaller, local organisations that provide vital job training, readiness and pathways programs to vulnerable groups in our communities.
Thanks to our community of public, corporate, and philanthropic supporters, our End of Year appeal has generated $67,000 for grassroots homelessness services.Through 13 grants, this funding is ensuring that vulnerable people are supported with all parts of a safe and secure home, from a roof over their heads, to food for their children, or financial help to keep paying bills. Communities across Australia are grappling with a cost of living crisis as rents, food, and basic essentials become increasingly difficult to afford, straining community support services as more people seek help.
The impact of poverty on children is often profound and enduring, yet one in six Australian children currently live in poverty. It is forecast that the rate of child poverty will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2023, having been reduced through the pandemic by the COVID Supplement payments. As we continue to be impacted by the ongoing pandemic and cost of living pressures, we are seeing rising rates of homelessness and family violence. We need early, trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate and culturally safe, sustained support for children, but also for families experiencing hardship.
LGBTIQA+ community members are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness than the rest of the population. Violence, family rejection, discrimination, and trauma in these communities drive the over-representation of LGBTIQA+ people among those who are homeless. We need to invest in more specialised services and workers who can support housing pathways for LGBTIQ+ people to ensure they are safe and secure.
Over the last 15 years Australia has fallen from 15th out of 153 countries in the 2006 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap rankings to 50th in 2021. This decline reflects poor Government policy development to combat well known social disadvantages impacting women of all ages. For example, for over a decade it has been widely known that older women are the fastest-growing group of homeless people and the greatest cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence. The Covid pandemic has deepened these issues and currently there are too many women living in poverty, housing insecurity and homelessness. That’s why we recently funded 10 smaller organisations supporting vulnerable women.