"We are forced to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff".

16 May 2024

“We are forced to be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”.

The Salvation Army’s budget response

The Salvation Army welcomes the efforts that have been made to address cost of living pressures such as the increase to Commonwealth Rental Assistance, energy concessions and funding for financial wellbeing and capability services but warns it will not be enough to address the significant need in our community.

The decision to leave JobSeeker and related payments well below the poverty line is very disappointing and against the overwhelming evidence from those who deliver services in the community sector, leading economists, and the government’s own expert panel*.

Jennifer Kirkaldy, General Manager of Policy, and Advocacy at The Salvation Army, says: “Charities do their best work when they are guardrails at the top of the cliff, but we are forced to be the ambulance at the bottom.”

Each year, through The Salvation Army’s nationwide network of over 400 centres and 2000 services in areas such as homelessness, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, youth support, family and domestic violence, financial hardship and much more, the Salvos provide**:

  • Assistance to one person every 17 seconds
  • More than 1.67 million sessions of care to over 250,000 people in need
  • Over 1.2 million bed nights to people who need accommodation
  • More than 1.63 million meals to people who access our homelessness services
  • Assistance to more than 10,000 women and their children at risk of experiencing family violence, including more than 123,000 nights of emergency accommodation for women and children impacted by violence.

“Every day The Salvation Army is working with people who simply cannot make ends meet when relying on working age payments. In every community in Australia, we are seeing people make impossible choices between food and rent, medication and warmth.” Ms Kirkaldy says, “The fact is, no matter how careful they are, an individual cannot budget away poverty – but the government can.

Lt. Col. Gregory Morgan, Secretary for Mission at The Salvation Army says: “Since 1994, when JobSeeker was last close to adequate, The Salvation Army has had to step in over 32 million times to help people who are struggling. Between now and the next federal budget, there will be at least another two million added to that total. It’s no surprise then, that 94 per cent of those reaching out to the Salvos for help are struggling to afford essentials, such as housing, groceries, medical care and utilities.”

To donate to The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, or if you need support from the Salvos, visit salvationarmy.org.au or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58). You can also donate at any Salvos Store.

*Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee 2024 Report to Government
**The Salvation Army Annual Report 2022-23

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