Charities the hidden face of Australia’s Cost of Living Crisis
4 Jul | '2023
Senator Dean Smith
Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
Liberal Senator for Western Australia
Angie Bell MP
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education
Shadow Minister for Youth
Federal Member for Moncrieff
Aaron Violi MP
Federal Member for Casey
CHARITIES THE HIDDEN FACE OF AUSTRALIA’S COST OF LIVING CRISIS
04 July 2023
Charities from the Dandenongs to the Gold Coast have described themselves as the ‘hidden face’ of the Albanese Government’s cost-of-living crisis.
Operators said they are facing record demand for their services against a backdrop of inflation, rising rents and reduced donations.
Charities and non-profits shared these experiences during visits by Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities Senator Dean Smith to the Federal electorates of Casey and Moncrieff.
The visits are aimed at supporting Coalition Members’ engagement with their local charities, as well as gauging the capacity and resilience of the sector nationally.
In Casey, Federal Member Aaron Violi MP and Senator Smith visited homelessness support service Holy Fools and emergency food relief provider Discovery Community Care, after calling into The Mustard Tree Op Shop and Café in Lilydale.
Sales at The Mustard Tree, run by the Lilydale Baptist Church, fund its wide-reaching charity work, including food, clothing and shelter for those in need.
Another catering operator doing important work is Tasty Az, a social enterprise providing cooking, job and life skills to people living with a disability, and where Mr Violi and Senator Smith helped make a batch of scones for afternoon tea.
The visit ended with a round table meeting with representatives of Anchor Community Care, Cire Community Hubs and Healesville Inter-Church Community Care.
Senator Smith said the work being done by local charities was inspiring.
“The support being provided to so many people, whatever their needs, is remarkable when you consider the economic environment charities are currently operating in,” Senator Smith said.
“The feedback is clear, there are more clients than ever before, but overheads are up and donations are down – it’s a very challenging space to be working in.
“We heard anecdotal evidence that increasing rents are forcing charities out of the premises they need to run their activities.”
Mr Violi said locals in need were supported by a charity and non-profit sector that is second to none.
“Casey is incredibly lucky to be home to such a dedicated, diverse and highly organised charities presence, doing everything possible to support those who are struggling,” Mr Violi said.
“But providing these services is far from easy at the moment, with many local charities facing unprecedented demand. The Mustard Tree told us it experienced its busiest month ever in May 2023.”
Travelling to Queensland’s Gold Coast, Senator Smith participated in a dynamic round table organised by Ms Angie Bell MP at the Broadbeach Senior Citizens Centre.
Among the charities and non-profits that generously gave both their time and input were St John’s Crisis Centre, Volunteering Gold Coast and Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, which supports the work of Australia’s busiest emergency department.
Rosie’s Friends on The Street, Hope Starts Here, The Migrant Centre, Serving Our People and branches of the local Rotary and Lions Clubs were also around the table, covering services from assisting new arrivals to Australia with getting drivers licences and other essentials, to running a free supermarket so those experiencing food stress can get their groceries in a stigma-free manner.
Ms Bell said that Moncrieff has a proud history of volunteering and supporting those in need, with local charities and community organisations actively working together to meet demand.
“Gold Coasters are feeling the full impact of this cost-of-living crisis and our local charities and community organisations are going above and beyond to provide support,” Ms Bell said.
“Moncrieff charities are out there doing important work, supporting the most vulnerable in our community. Friends with Dignity have furnished hundreds of homes for domestic violence survivors, St John’s Crisis Centre are offering a hand up to those who are struggling with homelessness and the Carrara Lions Club have their own grants programs to make a small but meaningful difference within our community.”
Senator Smith said although feedback about a lack of new volunteers across Casey and Moncrieff was consistent with elsewhere in Australia, it was encouraging to hear some representatives say they are seeing an uptick in interest from young people.
“But it’s a shame that, while charities and their volunteer bases work so hard to meet their obligations, the Albanese Government is not,” Senator Smith said.
“Labor doesn’t just owe it to Australians to be better economic managers, get inflation in check, and relieve the pain of its cost-of-living crisis – it owes it to our charities.”
“It’s a blessing that communities like those in Casey and Moncrieff have the outstanding charity sectors they do, and that they are so well advocated for by Aaron Violi and Angie Bell.