JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Struggling Canberrans skip meals: Salvos

Date

Lisa Cox

Giving back ... Gary hatcliffe is helping Canberrans after the Salvation Army helped him.

Giving back ... Gary hatcliffe is helping Canberrans after the Salvation Army helped him. Photo: Jay Cronan

An alarming number of Australians in difficulty are skipping meals and selling their possessions to try to keep up with rising living costs, a Salvation Army study to be published today has found.

The report, which surveyed 1700 Salvation Army clients over a two-week period, found 52 per cent had gone without meals during the past year because they could not afford them and nearly a third did not have the money for a decent meal once a day.

The Salvation Army's ACT branch said the trends were reflected in Canberra, where struggling residents were ''going without meals, pawning their items and going without necessities in order to survive''.

The study, which has been published to coincide with this weekend's Red Shield Appeal, found 45 per cent of clients had to sell possessions in the past year to pay for necessities, 59 per cent had delayed payment of utility bills and 35 per cent had been unable to meet mortgage or rent payments on time. The survey also showed that 33 per cent could not afford to heat at least one room in their house if it was cold and 25 per cent had taken on new debt to cope with cost-of-living pressures.

Salvation Army ACT and South NSW region communications secretary Dale Murray said the figures were ''alarming'' but confirmed what staff who provided welfare services in Canberra already knew.

''Unfortunately the report is not a surprise to us, because these are the people who have come into our centres in the last 12 months,'' he said.

''Sometimes we might skip a meal because we're busy or we have to work, but these people are skipping meals in order to survive.''

Captain Murray said the organisation was also disturbed that nearly half of the clients who answered the survey were selling their possessions to get by.

''Our question is what happens in 12 months' time when they have nothing left to sell?'' he said.

Forty-seven-year-old Gary Hatcliffe is among the ACT residents who know what it's like to get down to your last dollar and to feel ''destitute and alone''.

Eight months ago, a friend paid for him to take the train from Melbourne to Canberra, where he checked into the Salvation Army's recovery service in Fyshwick for people trying to beat addictions.

Mr Hatcliffe had gambled his final pay cheque from a teaching job on poker machines and had nothing left in the bank.

''I just couldn't stop,'' he said.

''No matter how intelligent I was or how much I wanted to use my own free will to get over my gambling, nothing worked.

''I was homeless and destitute and what brought me back here [to Canberra] was the fact I was suicidal.''

Mr Hatcliffe has spent the past eight months completing the Salvation Army's residential rehabilitation program.

Part of his treatment was to attend a Gamblers Anonymous group and now, newly recovered, he is starting his own group to help gambling addicts in Woden.

3 comments

  • The Woden Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meeting will start on Sat 26th May from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Salvation Army hall, Swinger Hill shops...

    IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW WANTS HELP TO STOP GAMBLING...COME ALONG AND TALK WITH LIKE MINDED PEOPLE.

    Commenter
    Garyboy65
    Date and time
    May 16, 2012, 9:41AM
    • I don't see what people are complaining about. Gillard and Swan say families are well off and not they have given families an extra 300 to 400 dollars paid into your bank account.Shouldn't this overcome any problems families have housing, feeding and educating your children?

      Commenter
      Tony
      Date and time
      May 16, 2012, 1:30PM
      • Dont forget the poor souls elsewhere on this planet, who dont have access to anything, let alone items to sell to survive. I think it might have been a very long time since someone died from starvation in the ACT. Modern day Australian survival indeed.

        Commenter
        Mud Flap
        Date and time
        May 16, 2012, 7:39PM
        Comments are now closed
        Featured advertisers

        Special offers

        Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo