DURING a recent visit to Parramatta Mission with Social Services Minister Amanda Risworth, Parramatta MP Andrew Charlton described how the charity opened their eyes to the adverse impact of rising prices of basics on everyday Australians, including those who have jobs.
“They saw an uptake of their Meals Plus program increase by 144 percent in the year prior and Centrelink referrals rose by 728 percent,” Dr Charlton said.
Dr Charlton said many people are unable to comfortably afford essentials such as food, electricity and rent.
The extent of the cost-of-living crisis affecting two in five households is among the main reasons Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called a review of supermarket prices, which Dr Charlton said he would support strongly in parliament.
“The rising cost of living has been a front-of-mind issue and addressing it is a priority for me,” he said
“The review that the prime minister has announced builds on our $14.6B targeted cost of living relief package from the federal budget.
“It is the next step in our fight against the rising cost of living…to look why lower costs to supermarkets aren’t translating to lower prices for consumers and how we can make that happen.”
Dr Charlton said he was concerned finding at least one-third of his Parramatta constituents are “bearing the brunt of housing affordability crisis”.
Citing Australian Bureau of Statistics findings, Dr Charlton said one third of households in Parramatta are under severe rental stress since last year.
“We have one of the highest rates of renters in the country. In areas such as North Rocks, rents are up by 11 percent, even higher at 14 percent in parts of North Parramatta.
“Last October, we begin to see the impact of our boost to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program with a 6.6 percent decrease in rent inflation.
“In fact, data from ABS showed rent inflation would have gone up by 8.3 percent if we hadn’t given a boost to the CRA.”
“The long-term reality is that we need more affordable housing, but we also need housing that is well-located and well-supported.
“Over the next five years, our $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund will deliver 30,000 affordable homes in well-located areas, helping drive down housing costs.
“The task now is to identify well-located areas with the potential to accommodate more housing supply.”
The Senate Select Committee on Cost of Living will shortly begin an inquiry on the cost of living, Council on the Ageing chief executive officer Patricia Sparrow said.
Ms Sparrow said COTA is reaching out to seniors in Western Sydney as they prepare an urgent submission to the committee because many older Australians on fixed low income are “hardest hit” in the crisis.
“The current cost of living crisis has shaken many older people’s confidence to manage their day-to-day financial affairs and live a good life,” Ms Sparrow said.
At Foodbank headquarters in Glendenning, more than 1,000 big and small charities led by Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul gather basic food and items donated for those finding it extremely hard to make ends meet.
Foodbank findings from a survey of 4,342 Australians from age 18 to seniors over 50s on how they obtained adequate groceries supply while dealing with skyrocketing cost of daily living fueled by more than 7 percent post-pandemic inflation.
The Foodbank Hunger Report 2023 revealed 3.7 million Australians or 36 percent of the population lacking substantial food, 28 percent skipped meals for a day or more.
The top reason on food insecurity experienced by an alarming number of Australians, 42 percent of them have jobs but incomes reduced while paying interest rates hikes and meeting basic housing, food and energy needs.
“We are fast heading towards a reality where more than half the population know food insecurity because experience it themselves,” Foodbank Australia chief executive Brianna Casey said.
Last Christmas, Western Sydney had seen struggling seniors and families across suburbs receiving food and grocery hampers from Paddy’s Markets among charities spreading cheers.
The NSW Police force in Western Sydney teamed up with Paddy’s Markets delivering grocery and hygiene items to thousands of disadvantaged local seniors and families with children to help ease the cost of living.
Each hamper had staples such as eggs, honey, fresh vegetables and fruits, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap and bodywash, at least a month’s worth of shopping.
Sydney Markets donated food and toys in a Christmas Party at Rosehill Racecourse for children who are terminally ill and have disabilities.