Written by Elisabeth Moss


Photo by Florian Pérennès, Unsplash


Australian families are struggling to put bread on the table, with some single mothers surviving off less than $15 a day.

A new survey by the Salvation Army shows 69 per cent of their clients struggle to afford food on a daily basis.

Single mother Pauline struggles to provide for her 16-year-old daughter Jasmine. Photo by Elisabeth Moss

Single mother Pauline often survives on as little as $8 a day.

She says her 16-year-old daughter Jasmine’s coeliac disease makes food shopping even more expensive.

“A loaf of her bread is $8 so sometimes I go without, for her,” Pauline says.

The survey indicates the average single parent, supported by The Salvation Army, lives off just $14.35 a day.

source: ESIS survey

Pauline receives Newstart Allowance as well Family Tax Benefit payments, but still has to borrow money from her mother to make ends meet.

She says she is not a “bludger” like some might think, but is struggling to find employment.

“I’ve done certificates and I’ve done diplomas, I do at least 30 job applications a week.

“It’s frustrating that they say there’s jobs out there yet I don’t have one.”

After suffering for eight years in an abusive relationship and then losing everything in the 2011 floods, Pauline is now supported by The Salvation Army.


Australia-wide problem

The Salvation Army survey indicates that many Australians still live below the poverty line.

source: ESIS survey

The Salvation Army communications and fundraising director Leigh Cleave says the survey reveals more than just alarming statistics.

“Every single number in this survey represents a real person, real families.”

However, she says as a country, Australia has never been richer.

“Across the board, our standard of living continues to improve in almost every category.

“But these gains and opportunities have not been distributed fairly with millions of Australians living on the margins,” she says.

Mrs Cleave says more community support is needed for organisations such as The Salvation Army, to help break the poverty cycle.

“We like to think of Australia as the land of the ‘fair go’, but unless people are willing to go the extra mile to help those in need, this idea will become a relic of the past,” she says.