The Salvation Army aims is to raise $36 million from its annual Red Shield Appeal, which takes place this weekend.
Now in its 58th year, the Red Shield Appeal is the Salvos' flagship fundraising appeal, with this year's funds supporting more than 2000 centres and services across Australia, including family welfare assistance, refuges for women and children in crisis, homeless shelters, youth drop-in centres, emergency and disaster relief, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and employment training.
A new Salvation Army research report, released as part of the annual Red Shield Appeal, has revealed a growing number of Australians are struggling with housing, food, utilities and health care and can't meet basic living expenses.
More than 1400 people who have called on the Salvos for assistance over the past 12 months were surveyed, and the research found that after paying for housing costs, 93 per cent of respondents were living below the poverty line, with 75 per cent saying that managing financial stress was one of their greatest challenges, 65 per cent needing to ask for financial help from family and friends and 56 per cent not being able to afford medical or dental treatment when they need it.
"Sadly, almost half of those surveyed have been forced to go without meals due to shortage of money, 36 per cent can't afford medicines prescribed to them and 32 per cent can't pay their rent or mortgage on time," The Salvation Army's national public relations secretary, Major Bruce Harmer said.
"Over recent years, Australians have faced unprecedented economic stress and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and rising costs of living.
"In addition, we've faced fires, drought and most recently floods, putting even more financial pressure on the most vulnerable.
"Both housing stress and the risk of homelessness is high amongst those who participated in our research, with 78 per cent in housing stress, paying 30 per cent or more of their household income on housing, and 48 per cent in extreme housing stress, paying 50 per cent or more of their household income on housing."
After paying for housing costs, many households were left with little disposable income - respondents in paid employment were left with just $29 a day to live on after paying for housing, and those on government support payments were left with only $22 a day.
"Our research has shown that the situation is particularly dire for those who are living on government support payments. These people are struggling to afford their basic needs, with 88 per cent finding it difficult to meet their necessary living expenses and 97 per cent living below the poverty line," Major Harmer said.
Major Harmer said the Salvation Army is calling on the next elected Federal Government to focus on the most vulnerable in society.
"Being able to meet basic living expenses should be the norm for all in an advanced economy like Australia, and not something we are still discussing in 2022," he said.
Over the past 12 months, the Salvation Army has seen a significant increase of people who are turning to them for support, and they are calling on the Australian community to get behind them during this weekend's Red Shield Appeal to help the Salvos keep up with demand and leave no one in need.
"The financial and emotional stress being faced right across our nation is enormous and we're calling on all Australians to give generously so that we can continue to support the most vulnerable people in the community and help them get back on their feet," Major Harmer said.
"We live and breathe our mission in our work with individuals and families experiencing hardship and crisis every single day, but we need the entire community's support to achieve this.
"As Salvos, when we see someone in need, we can also see the potential of what they can achieve with our support, so please give generously."
To donate to or volunteer with The Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal, or if you need support from The Salvos, visit salvationarmy.org.au or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58). You can also donate at any Salvos Store.
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