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Survey shows marked increase in children’s deprivation

Economic Social Impact Survey image
The Salvation Army’s seventh annual national Economic and Social Impact Survey (2018 ESIS) spoke to 1,267 ER clients clients, who represented 1,470 children. ESIS reveals there has been a 13% increase in the level of deprivation experienced by children, compared to last year’s findings, with more than two thirds of those children experiencing severe deprivation and growing up in households with significant hardship and disadvantage.  


More than one in 10 people were homeless or residing in temporary accommodation; of these, half were homeless for more than 12 months. One quarter of respondents relocated in the past year; 59% of households with children had to move schools due to family violence, adding further isolation, disconnection and hardship for families.

After paying accommodation, ESIS respondents were left with $21 per day to live on; more than 96% of ESIS households with children were living below the poverty line. Newstart Allowance recipients had the least amount of income to live on, left with less than $17 per day after housing costs.

Single parent households and couples with children experienced the lowest standard of living and faced the biggest gap below the poverty line. This gap widens even further with an additional child.

Half of respondents reported finding a job was the biggest challenge they faced each day. Nearly one third of respondents were actively looking for a job; they reported that being out of the workforce, parenting responsibilities, cost of transport, and lack of experience and skills were the main barriers to finding employment. Nearly two in five respondents cited mental health issues as the main reason precluding them from engaging in the labour force.

Respondents were spending a $148 per week on food; more than one third of their weekly household income. The rising cost of food has become a pressure point for many ESIS households, with nearly three in five respondents reporting that food affordability was their greatest day-to-day challenge. More than two thirds of respondents are not able to afford enough food to eat, and regularly skipped meals. More than 70% sought assistance and food vouchers from charity organisations.

For the past seven years, The Salvation Army has asked people who access our Emergency Relief services to share their experiences of financial hardship, disadvantage and the challenges they face each day, through ESIS. The majority of respondents continue to experience extreme housing stress, face multiple barriers to finding work, and manage on very little income each week. Many households struggle to maintain a basic standard of living, often go without essential items, and at times, are unable to feed themselves or their families.

Download the executive summary

Download the key findings