ACT News


Managing to get by adds up to going without

A simple taxi ride to get his daughter to the doctor meant that Grahame Riley did not eat for three days.

The Red Hill father of four belongs to one of an estimated 45,000 Australian households using Anglicare Emergency Relief services, without enough money to feed their families.

Welfare group Anglicare Australia will release a report today that says nearly half of those regularly go without food for a whole day.

Like many of these families, Mr Riley relies solely on the government's $490 a fortnight Newstart allowance to survive.

After he pays his rent and electricity bills, his phone and bus pass and takes care of his kids once or twice a week, that drops to $40. All of it goes to food.

So when his daughter got sick, Mr Riley was left with nothing.


''My daughter needed to get to the doctor. I couldn't wait an hour for the next bus so I had to pay for a taxi,'' Mr Riley said.

''The cost of the taxi alone meant I couldn't eat for three days.

''I just want to see my kids happy, and if that meant I had to walk a hundred miles on broken glass, I would.''

The report found that 76 per cent of 590 households surveyed who use Anglicare's emergency relief services, including 30 in the ACT, are ''severely food insecure''.

Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said people who fell into this category typically skipped meals at least one day a week. ''There's always been debate about whether poverty exists in Australia. This shows it clearly does,'' she said.

Ms Chambers said people on income support were at the highest risk of food insecurity.

Of all the respondents, 31 per cent were receiving Newstart. Meanwhile, 31 per cent were in receipt of the Disability Support Pension and 32 per cent the Parenting Payment Single.

Mr Riley said if the federal government was really ''fair dinkum'' about making a difference to low-income families it should raise the Newstart allowance to align it with the cost of living.

A Senate inquiry into increasing Newstart allowance ends next month.


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