Overwhelmed by requests for help, scarcity of donations and difficulty attracting volunteers during COVID-19, Australian charities are facing a "perfect storm".
That's according to one of the nation's leading welfare experts who warns there could be lasting consequences.
"COVID has been so enormously disruptive for charities as they strive to play a important role throughout lockdown," Centre for Social Impact CEO Kristy Muir told AAP.
"They continue to adapt and adjust to the fluxes and flows but they're under serious pressure and they're really not getting as much support as they need."
The UNSW Business School professor said a survey of 500 volunteer organisations during last year's lockdowns found more than 70 per cent experiencing increased demand for services they couldn't meet.
The Black Summer bushfires followed by floods prior to COVID has meant a constant flow of challenges, with 85 per cent of charities reporting depleted revenues.
"We also know there have been serious decreases in volunteer numbers," Prof Muir said.
"There have been amazing responses for some organisations but Volunteer Australia research ... found a 65 per cent drop. That equates to 12.2 million hours of work."
During lockdown it may not be safe or possible for people to volunteer, Prof Muir said.
JobKeeper, JobSeeker and supplements for charities have been considerable, but 41 per cent of the organisations receiving the help say the fix was temporary.
On top of that has been a decrease in donations.
JBWere and NAB's latest Charitable Giving Index reported the biggest drop in giving in more than 40 years in the six months to December 2020, while countless fundraising events have been cancelled.
"We've got a perfect storm of very much increased demand, decreased resources and ongoing challenges," Prof Muir said.
The beauty of government job support measures was that they allowed many on the margins to reset their lives in small but vital ways without having to worry about where their next meal was coming from, she added.
However the weekly 'disaster payments' now in place aren't available to those who need it most, Prof Muir says.
Excluded from the measures are some people on the lowest incomes, the casually employed, underemployed and unemployed, she said.
It's an impact magnified by the loss of 33 million working hours between May and June alone.
"All of this will have a long-term consequences," Prof Muir said.
"Once people fall over the cliff, it is very hard for them to get back and, of course, poverty is inter-generational."
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie says of the nearly 400,000 people in Greater Sydney receiving JobSeeker ($315 per week), Youth Allowance ($256 per week) and other payments, many - due to circumstances beyond their control - are locked out of trying to find work.
"While we welcome that the increased disaster payments will help many ... those on the lowest incomes are being left to face destitution and homelessness," she said.
"You can't stay at home if you can't afford to keep a roof over your head."
NSW Council of Social Service CEO Joanna Quilty says she especially wants to see a boost to mental health services and to make sure rough sleepers can access accommodation.
Corelogic data shows a 6.6 per cent rent increase over the past year - the highest since 2009 with thousands of people being pushed to the brink of homelessness and housing stress.
Australian Associated Press
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