Children suffer in welfare crisis

Welfare agencies do not have the resources to cater for thousands of children in need. Picture: file image
Welfare agencies do not have the resources to cater for thousands of children in need. Picture: file image

Salvation Army doorways community program co-ordinator Kris Halliday said he was not surprised by the report as the Salvation Army’s Northbridge Marketplace was straining to meet the rising demand.

‘The demand is certainly increasing; more families are struggling to make ends meet,’ Lieutenant Halliday said.

‘School holidays were a tough time; many families found it tough to provide food for the week and people coming to us for the first time were ashamed. One activity during the school holiday can blow the food budget for some families.’

Lt Halliday said the most popular food at the Marketplace was fruit and vegetables.

‘We don’t turn anyone away empty-handed, we will try to give them something for that day. The reality is that the cost of living keeps increasing but wages aren’t.

‘It’s tough on the staff too when they have to tell parents that there is nothing we can do.’

Foodbank chief executive Greg Hebble said the Hunger Report 2014 showed 51,000 WA people received food parcels each week ” one third of them children.

‘In spite of this effort, there are still 8841 people in WA seeking assistance each month ” including 4210 children ” who are turned away empty-handed due to lack of food and resources,’ he said.

‘With many living pay cheque to pay cheque, general low income and unexpected expenses or events were found to be the biggest factors in driving families and individuals to access food aid.

‘As increasing numbers of the population are turning to food assistance, charities have been unable to keep pace.

‘More than 60 per cent reported increases in the numbers of people accessing their services, while one in five saw an increase of more than 15 per cent.

Mr Hebble said food relief was a key contact point for agencies to connect with vulnerable people and help move them towards a longer-term solution.

‘Almost three quarters of agencies reported food was a significant reason for people seeking out welfare services, while four in five agencies felt it helped build trust and enabled them to offer other assistance,’ he said.

Mr Hebble believed the food relief charity had the structure to tackle the growing problem of hunger in Australia.

‘Foodbank provides more than 58 per cent of food utilised by Australian welfare agencies across the country,’ he said.

‘Last year Foodbank WA delivered the equivalent of 4,146,666 meals or 11,360 meals each day.

‘Our services extend beyond satisfying immediate hunger. In addition to addressing nutritional and physical health needs, a meal contributes to improvements in emotional wellbeing, sense of self-worth, social relationships, academic performance and ultimately overall standard of living.’