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“It’s a tough time,” says Prime Minister – Salvation Army research confirms now more expensive to be poor 64% of Australia’s vulnerable can’t afford utility bills in cost-of-living crisis

The Salvation Army 3 mins read

27 June 2023




“It’s a tough time,” says Prime Minister

Salvation Army research confirms now more expensive to be poor

64% of Australia’s vulnerable can’t afford utility bills in cost-of-living crisis


The final crucial days of the Salvation Army’s 2023 Red Shield Appeal have highlighted it is now more expensive to be poor in Australia.


Research confirms over 6 in 10 (64%) vulnerable Australians cannot afford to pay their utility bills on time due to a shortage of money, more than six times higher than the national average.


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, in supporting the national Red Shield Appeal is seeking to raise $37 million nationally for significant social welfare services helping Australians facing homelessness, overcoming addiction, experiencing domestic and family violence, providing financial counselling and helping with emergency disaster relief, said “It’s a tough time, with global inflation having an impact”.


“My mum, although she had nothing, would always give to The Salvos every time. The good thing about The Salvos is that you know every dollar goes towards helping people,” the Prime Minister added.


According to the Salvation Army’s Head of Fundraising, Janine Kewming, “It is now more expensive to be poor in this country.”


“Our community members are making the most devastating decisions. Having to decide whether to put the heating on to stay warm in winter can literally be the difference between life and death.”


With winter now here, the Salvos’ survey of more than 1,700 community members who accessed assistance from The Salvation Army illustrates the extreme challenges they are facing. Over 5 in 10 (51%) respondents were on hardship plans with their energy provider, almost three-quarters (74%) were cutting back on using heating, and 70% had reduced the use of lights in their homes.


A 35-year-old single mother who accessed The Salvos services said, “I have had no heating for two years. My mental health is day-to-day, depending on whether I can afford my medication or even necessities like milk and bread. I have skipped meals at night to ensure my son has what he needs. I have sold most of my jewellery to pawnbrokers.”


“I feel guilty that my son can see we are struggling, and it's something a child should never have to worry about. I'm scared that we won't cope this coming winter.”


Further, 6 in 10 were taking shorter or fewer showers, 34% went to bed early to keep warm and 36% stopped having guests over to save on energy bills. 



The Salvation Army are calling on the Australian public and the business community to dig deep for the Red Shield Appeal and help support the critical need The Salvos are seeing within the community.


Businessman Patrick Tuttle, a valuable donor of the Salvos, is passionate about making a difference in the lives of those being acutely affected right now. His reasons for supporting are personal, having seen the impact on the frontline. 


“Most recently, I visited The Salvation Army’s Streetlevel Mission in Sydney, where hundreds of people receive assistance daily in the form of cooked lunches, the chance to simply have a chat with friendly faces, receive financial counselling, access internet services, or simply get a hot cup of coffee,” says Mr Tuttle. 


“The impacts are real, and incredibly meaningful to the people using these various services, sometimes on a daily basis. It’s not particularly glamorous and the Salvos certainly don’t ask for any praise or thanks.  They just get on with the job at hand.”


“I’m personally committed to all the great work that the Salvos are doing on the front line. It’s also personally very rewarding to be able to give back in a practical way and to help make a difference. In my view, we all have a social responsibility to “give back” whether it’s with our time, using our skills and commercial experience, or financially by donating to great causes and organisations like the Salvos.”


The research findings come as The Salvation Army’s annual Red Shield Appeal aims to raise $37 million by June 30 to ensure it can continue providing support to thousands of Aussies doing it tough every week.

“The Salvation Army has a network of over 2,000 centres and services around the country providing critical support, but this isn’t possible without the generosity of the Australian public,” says Janine Kewming. “Your support, especially at tax time, makes a tangible difference. Almost 90% of those surveyed said they would not have coped financially if it wasn’t for the support of the Salvos. So please, if you can, give generously to the Red Shield Appeal.”

Each year, through The Salvation Army’s nationwide network of services, the Salvos provide: *

  • Assistance to one person every 17 seconds
  • More than 1.86 million sessions of care to people in need
  • Over 1 million bed nights to those who need accommodation
  • More than 1.52 million meals to people who accessed our homelessness services.


To make a tax-deductible donation to The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, or if you need support from the Salvos, visit or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).


For more information, please contact The Salvation Army’s Media Relations Department on (02) 94663143 *The Salvation Army Australia Annual Report 2021-22



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