Poverty is increasing, life is getting harder say The Salvos, Shelters for the Needy, Renters Alliance, Human Rights Alliance

Gerry Georgatos
The Salvation Army says life is getting bleaker for our poorest, and that the numbers of poor are increasing.

The Salvation Army's annual survey drew responses from more than 1700 folk and is backed by Shelters for the Needy spokesperson Lea Keenan who said that the nation's poor have grown and that more Australians are homeless than ever before.

Ms Keenan is also part of a coalition of citizens driving a campaign - the Renters Alliance - to reduce rents, Australia-wide, and increase significant renters' rights and ensure Australians, particularly investors, realtors and legislators alike understand that a rental property is ones home and that it should never be regarded as anything less.

"There are now seventy per cent of Australians who are at the mercy of landlords, investors and realtors, as most Australians cannot afford a house. They should not be discriminated against, exploited so investors can pay first, second and third mortgages off their backs, that is off the labours of renters. The nation's moral compass is askew."

"Homelessness is increasing because of the horrific markets of greed in this country that have driven up home property prices and in turn thumped in these immoral rent levels. It's a pernicious crisis. Australians for Affordable Housing and the Renters Alliance both confirm this, so do social researchers, university academics, everyone, so it is about time parliamentarians do the conversation on property prices, regulate this market and return home ownership to the people rather than gift it to the investor and the exploiter. They must do the yarns on reducing rents and regulating them, on ensuring a comprehensive renters rights schedule - this is the profound conversation that we need," said Ms Keenan.

The Salvation Army's annual survey found more than half of those interviewed admitted not being able to afford three meals a day, skipping meals in order to afford other basic necessities.

Half were selling and pawning possessions to make ends meet. The debt crises are worsening, with new debt created each year for households, one in four had taken on new debt. A third could cannot afford heating, and more than a third cannot afford prescribed medicine.

Ms Keenan said a survey by Shelters for the Needy had interviewed 2,100 people and that it conveyed much the same analyses as the Salvation Army survey of 1,700 folk. "It indicated ever increasing enormous pressures on single parent and single income families, and that they are lagging behind in many basic necessities and quality of life each day."

She said that 80% of those surveyed were increasingly worried about the future.

The Salvation Army's Bruce Harmer said more people are seeking help from the Salvos than ever before. "Things are worse this year than in previous years and certainly those that are surveyed feel that as well."

He said 71% of those surveyed said they were worried about the future. "They're not expecting the future to be any better," he said.

The Salvation Army is concerned more people are falling into abject poverty.

The Salvation Army's Warren Palmer said, "59% of those people surveyed had to defter payments to utility providers, so that is a really big impact on those people struggling at the moment."

Ms Keenan said, "Unless our politicians care enough, unless they start considering the poorest, the homeless, the renters then things are going to get much worse, bleaker. Deprivation will become the order of the day, bills will be left unpaid, services cut off, more Australians will go without meals."

"The Salvation Army found that one third of people surveyed are going without heating. Well I can tell you this is true. In WA's South West it is cold right now and with winter approaching sub zero temperatures and residents of Bridgetown and nearby towns who are renters paying far too much to landlords and realtors, they cannot make ends meet, so they are going without heating, two of them told us they cannot afford a $150 trailer load of firewood for the winter. We are actually trying to raise the funds for these two families, however the problem is endemic."

"When renters are being exploited to meet the greed of others, to pay the mortgages of someone else and rents are so ridiculously high well for those whose wages are low how can they afford a trailer load of firewood?"

"It is obscene that we have let it go on for so long, that a landlord expects the mortgage paid by the poor old renter and that if they fail to pay the rent in any one week then they are out on their behinds, it's sick when you think of this more deeply than Australians have," said Ms Keenan.

The Salvation Army survey found ten per cent of folk had resorted to gambling, compounding their desperation and deprivation, and that 55% of those surveyed were worse off financially this year than last year, and Shelters for the Needy said this trend appeared that it would continue.

Most people did not have significant savings and many had no savings, with a majority of folk encumbered by debt and a significant percentage crippled by debt.

Many more people than ever before are going with warm clothes. bedding and various linen, many more families than ever before are without a phone.

More than 20% cannot afford to visit a doctor when in need.

42% cannot afford any dental treatment.

37% cannot afford prescription medication.

Mr Palmer said, "It is the depth of the hardship that is so confronting in these findings."

More than 90,000 West Australians alone go to the Salvation Army every year.

Australia-wide there are more than three million people in abject hardship according to Ms Keenan, with up to 9 million feeling the effects of significant stresses from outrageous rents and mortgages. "Let us remind ourselves that there are two hundred thousand peoples homeless."

Human Rights Alliance spokesperson Natalie Flower said there needs to be a coordinated campaign pressuring for outcomes and not limited to awareness-raising. "The HRA endorses the campaigns of the Renters Alliance and of Shelters for the Needy because if they are implemented they can reduce homelessness, enshrine at long last what the UDHR (Universal Declaration for Human Rights) calls for - shelter, a home, as a natural right - reduce poverty. The homeless include the poorest among us, a disproportionate number of Aboriginal peoples, those without mental well-being, and families thumped by ever increasing stressors which include rental and mortgage stress, however if we reduce rents and put together a schedule of renters rights then in line with the domino-principle there will be ripples of change for the common good, and economic well-being and not this economic madness."

"Life will get harder unless we make law what the moral compass is, we cannot trust those who thus far have let down humanity and the common good," said Ms Keenan.


Gerry Georgatos - gerry_georgatos@yahoo.com.au - 0430 657 309
Lea Keenan - rentersalliance@humanrightsalliance.org - 0412 833 733


He cannot afford basic items like school shoes and weekend family outings are rare

Our annual Red Shield Appeal doorknock is on the weekend of May 19-20 and we need 100,000 volunteer collectors to help make it a success

"Enough is enough with what renters go through and the hardship is only getting worse, with political parties geared to inherently supporting the interests of landlords and investors, who are actually fewer than the renters."

"Well if home property values are declining in Bridgetown and Donnybrook why are rents going up?"

The renters’ rights movement that recently started in the Blackwood region has spread Australia-wide with the Renters Alliance swamped with emails and calls from distressed renters, said Lea Keenan

The Human Rights Alliance contributes, and gives rise, to campaigns and causes in the seeking of civil and just remedies where it appears uncivil and inhumane injustices exist. The Human Rights Alliance is predominately a coalescing of volunteers, far and wide, who work on projects that will improve the lives of those less fortunate or who are in need of our helping hand

"In years past, we rarely saw working mums and dads come in to see us but over the last few years we've seen an increasing number of people who do have employment who are finding themselves also in need of some additional help,"

Thousands of Australians are going without meals as they battle to pay household bills, according to a Salvation Army study that paints a bleak picture of deprivation among the nation's poor

Australia is experiencing a critical lack of affordable housing. The number of public housing dwellings declined by more than 40,000 from 372,000 in 1996 to 330,000 in 2008, leaving 250,000 Australians to languish on public housing waiting lists, the majority for more than a year. Demand for public housing is estimated to rise by 28% or about 93,000 houses by 2023. Private rental costs have continued to increase beyond the rate of the CPI for more than five years. More than 600,000 families and single people are now in housing stress in the private rental market. This situation has compounded poverty for low-income earners, leaving more people vulnerable to homelessness.
The ABS cost of living survey showed those on low incomes were paying nearly three times the proportion of their income to service housing costs compared with those on upper-middle incomes. The lack of affordable housing has also changed the face of homelessness, contributing
to a rise in the number of homeless families and destroying exit points from homelessness into safe, secure, appropriate and affordable housing



This is not the only social issue that the Salvation Army should be looking at.
They were pivotal to practices which led unwed mothers lose their babies in the baby scoop era and have not even apologised for this. The government has recommended they do so.

They are playing at how good they are now with this abominable homelessness issue, and totally unaware, many birth mothers they were meant to 'care for' and often got paid to 'care for' are living below the poverty line and some in the most horrific abject poverty.
I know several of these women who eat one meal a day only due to financial stress, can't afford heating, and don't have their phones on as the bills are too high.

It's good the Salvos. are addressing what the Brothers of St. Lawrence address being poverty and it's astonishing rise in Australia, due as thie article says factually due to landlords, porperty developers, real estate agents & owners who rent at exorbinant prices run down dumps ( the lanlords of these known as slum lords where I come from the States), but they've being asked to apologise for their own greed the Salvos, and need to do this as well as their charity work today.
What they did to unmarried mothers who needed maternity care and instead had their bablies ripped away from them, in Salvation Army maternity hospitals, as well as some homes they had in that terrible to say the least Baby Scoop era.

Totally agree with all the others who are saying what every civil Australian is thinking; Why are there so many homeless, and some of them are living in premises that are high rentals, have water dripping on their heads whilst they sleep (Plumbing ignored etc.)
Some are renting for a small fortune, almost all their wages, or if on social security all of their income, literal slums.

This is an area of Human Services that has been swept under the carpet for too long and now, as written in this article needs immediate attention.

How can anyone work or even basically survive without shelter, a home, which is as the UN Declaration one of our very bottom line human rights.

The now common practice of casual employment is part of the problem so the Industrial Relations should be looking at regulating this too. Regulate the property developers, the landlords and the Real estate agents too, their abhorrent and show they don't care by their greed.

What's astounding most of all is the Salvos are speaking out about this and unable to admit when they themselves have been greedy taking so much because of disgraceful discrimination against unmarried mothers and their babies.

They get two points for looking at the homeless, and I wonder if they've bothered to see how many of these very unmarried mothers are on the edge financially, are near enough to abject poverty, some are with abject poverty, because of the Salvos. very own practices with forced adoptions.

For the others it's also a tragic reality, greed has become almost fahionable, and othere are so many trying to incite envy with what they have at the cost of those who have so very little. This is pitiful of the greedy, absolutely pitiful.

We need to all pull together with this one and the idea of sharing has to come to the fore.
Greed has divided the Australian nation, we're collectively a rich nation especially now with the mining boom and all the minerals beneath our soils.

The greedy landlords who are ripping off their tenants need to have laws in place like in my country USA whereby they are called to the courts and named, shamed as slum lords, which they are. They disgust everybody.

I work with social services and see what this article is writing about every single day of my working week and it's heartbreaking but there's hope.
A lot of good peop;e outside of government are really taking note, with intent to act if this worsens.

Does the government ever consider what this is doing to the whole exonomy, indivduals, families as well as the social fabric of our country?
So long as they're well fed, with heating and more homes & offices than they need will they ever care?
They'll either start to care or lose their credibility, that's already on an all time low.

This is a very hot topic, I'm contributing what I can to see how change can happen for those with the least.
No one but no one should go without basics in Australia, we're not a third world country.
No one should also have to lose their self-respect, pride and dignity by turning to charities for alms in Australia. Abominable.


The Salvos are not really a charity they are a 120 and over international CORPORATION.
The idea they are do gooders is too much as we all know how corporations work these days.
I think the way they discriminate is disgusting.
They wont emply homosexuals.
They did the dirty and discriminated against unmarried mothers in the time the Senate Inquiry into Forced Adoptions has been looking at.
They now show us a side of themselves that 'cares'.
The other speakers I commend, not the Salvos.
Corporations who claim to be givers and charities have a lot of answering to do to some very major issues, political and social.
Are the Salvos with a few 'christian' Lobby Groups' supporting them, as we all know many give them buckets of funds for their enterprises.
I'm all for ending poverty when it's as this media is saying, I'm not into hypocrites, and turn my head away from these guys saying they're doing some goodly deeds when they are so big and powerful they could really make a difference, yet haven't.
So more people are turning to them, and is that a begging on their part for more funding, or what?
Get rid of poverty in Australia, and get rid of corporate greed to boot.
E. Sutherland

What is happening in Australia is beyond belief.
Poverty is in my face in affluent as well as other suburbs in all states, I travel a lot.
Gross and often abject poverty. How come.
I know a few answers to this and greed is the big one.
I also think what Cor says is correct.
The hide of a multinational corporation like the Salvos being so discriminating against unmarried women or girls and their babies.
The hide of them play as being part of the goodness club when they first and foremost have to clean up their own corporation.

The others, if they're also corporations, forget it, you've lost my trust from the start.
Poverty in Australia is at a record high that's not a joke nor to be taken advantage of by some being superior with their powers over others who are doing it tough.
A friend of mine went to the Salvos for a food voucher when he was studying at uni. and got a soical worker who was strict, punitive, played god and made my mate run out of there with a meagre supply of hardly eatable foods.
Poverty is not where people who really care do that kind of thing, they give graciously and caringly.
Salvos. have to start doing ethical right by forced adoptions.
See Senate Inquiry into Forced Adoptions and wow we found some messy things they've been involved in.
Usually postive about people but this corp. is not what it appears to be, and a lot of thinking people are asking why they aren't.
Do the right thing by people with less, not play god.

Insteading of wasting our money on sending Australian troops off to an unwinnable (by the veterans themselves) war in Afghanustan, and the atrpocious one Bush and Howard and co. started in Iraq we should be spending that money on alleviating poverty in Australia.
We spend far too much on destructive negative ambititous wars than we do on keeping people on basics and alive in Australia. Enough now.
Now it's really time for a war on poverty in Australia.

Another suggestion, we are overgoverned, get rid of state governments, they're so chaotic and costly, far too costly for all Australians.

As well, the governments would do well to start charging the ECO unfriendly, unethical corporations a special tax that goes straight to the poor, and stop giving government politicians all these offices they can't possibly use all at once.
What a waste of property the latter as well as a waste of tax payers monies.

Next, tax the very richest, and those who have tax havens so that tax can also replenish funds strictly toward the most disadvantaged in Australia.

The whole country would do well to allow everyone a slice of the cake and not leave anyone out in the badlands, for more reasons than to lift the economy and unburden the hardships of those in poverty, and on low incomes.

I'm with every awareness the UN Declaration was iniated and stands forever as a goal post to enable all people's all the things everyone needs as basics, food, clothing, shelter/housing, leisure, livlihood, health care, and opportuntunites to work at their trades or skills unhindered by needless interference and this madness that is constant pools of casuals.
We need work, everyone needs proper pay for work and no less.
The pensions and benefits should also increase in line with the present and future cost of living.
Who can live decently on those below poverty level social security incomes, no one.

Ian Nielson

Cor is correct.
There must be some lobby groups supporting this multinational corporation Salvation Army.
I'm afraid I care too much about the realities of pverty in Australia to hear any hypocrasy from the Salvation Army. They give peanuts and ask for too much from the Australian public, and I know several people who've donated far too much to this corporation.

I'm not well versed in who and what the others are and agree this: Poverty in Australia must be addressed.
Human Rights Lawyers are with a lot of social injustices to look at.
Poverty is at the core of many of these because so many people have made money the only reason for existence. Work, acquire and don't care about the needy or the poor.

There isn't enough public sympathy for the least advantaged, and I know from work experiences and life they didn't become poor because they were nasty or bad.
The Salvation Army, on the other hand, need to change and as Cor said own up to their past & present atrocities. Stop looking down as if on high at your clients Salvos. I am a barrister and I don't dare do this with any of my clients.
It's called ethics and princiles, and with you lot, there's a matter of legalities you need to look after re forced adoptions.
(Adoptee, wife, mother & Barrister)

Go Cor, The Salvos are part of the problem not the solution.
All corporations are.
I'm all for the Renters Alliance and reputable people looking at rents, foods, basics and ridding poverty.
But Salvos have short changed too many people under the pretense of chistian goodliness, that now doesn't sit too well.

I've read all about their dreadful deeds with solo pregnant mums in the 60's, 70's.
Poverty in Australia should never be, we're all in this together and change is a'coming.

Beverly & Red

I agree with all of you but Gerry's article is about poverty and rents and really its about what Lea is saying from the Renters Alliance and that mob is really on to the issues I think, I think all major organisations that have millions of dollars eventually are too big for what they're about and ways gets corrupted.

anyway something ludicrous and the madness of the world is seen here http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/rents-hit-the-roof-in-wa/story-e6frg...

Does the Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal monies go straight to the stakeholders?
I'm disgusred the Human Rights Alliance and the Renters Alliance are in bed with the Army of starvation.
Greg Fitz

rents should be halved and then some!

You can target Corporations if they have targeted so many innocent people and made them disadvantaged or destroyed their hope along their lives, or the environment/s and this includes human environments as well as natural.
Go SumOfUs.
See Indymedia about this.

This is a very relevant subject.
I see too much division now between the haves and have nots,
I stand with Cor on this to as there are corporations and most where corruption, chaos and abuse happens.
I've worked at two.
For the pooest we all need to stand up and speak out.
Everyone in Australia is entitled to a decent and sustainable standard of living.
Good on Renters Alliance and Human Rights Alliance for standing their ground with poverty.
a SERIOUS social, economocal and very real subject that needs a lot of thoughtful minds working to make changes.
Top down never works.

Sammie and family