Children Miss Out as Cost of Living Rises - NFP Report
2 July 2015 at 10:31 am
Families are cutting back on essentials like health care and school holiday outings as they struggle to meet cost of living expenses, according to new findings released by the Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS).
The findings – from a survey of low to middle income families conducted by Essential Media Communications and Research Now – are detailed in NCOSS’ annual Cost of Living Report.
NCOSS Deputy CEO, John Mikelsons, said more low to middle income families were now struggling.
“Families on low to middle incomes are doing it tougher than ever”, he said.
“Over the past ten years, basic household expenses like electricity have more than doubled, while rents in Sydney have gone up a whopping 60 per cent.
“To meet these costs, many parents are forced to cut back or delay paying for other essentials like going to the dentist, getting a haircut or buying new clothes.
“And during these school holidays, many parents simply can’t afford to take their kids on a trip away or for a fun day out.”
Mikelsons also said that the report showed a number of issues impacted uniquely on families living in rural and regional NSW.
“In many instances, regional families face more difficult cost of living pressures.
“For example, electricity bills are significantly higher in most parts of rural NSW.
“Our survey also revealed that regional families on low to middle incomes are more likely to report concern about meeting the costs of Internet”.
NCOSS pointed to recent statistics that show almost 1 in 7 children are living in households below the poverty line.
The report said these statewide statistics mask a situation that is even more troubling in some towns and suburbs in NSW.
“Country towns like Brewarrina (31.8%), Kyogle (28.2%), and Tenterfield (27.9%), and suburbs like Auburn (26.1%) and Canterbury (25.6%)2 – among others – have child poverty rates that far exceed the statewide average,” the report said.
In the report NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said whatever causes a child to experience poverty, that child is not responsible and the welfare sector needs to come together to help address the issues.
“Whatever causes a child to experience poverty, it shouldn’t determine their life chances.
And we know that here in New South Wales, we can act to break the cycle of disadvantage and ensure that the 1 in 7 children who are experiencing poverty have the best chance in life.
“Today, NCOSS is starting a conversation with our members and other stakeholders to talk about their own experiences, the experiences of the children and families they work with, and what makes a difference in the lives of children experiencing poverty,” Howe said.
“Before we started this conversation we gathered some data and spoke with 400 low and middle income families about their experience of the cost of living today – with the results outlined in this report.
“But NCOSS also plans to visit cities, suburbs and towns across New South Wales to talk about how our sector can work together with children, families, government and other players to ensure that the 1 in 7 children who are experiencing poverty have the best possible start in life.
“Our focus will be on solutions – how together we shape a future where the life outcomes of our children aren’t determined by their socio-economic status and the poverty they experience in childhood.
“Our focus during this conversation is on the five key areas identified by the research as affecting a child’s risk of social exclusion, and what we all can do to reduce that risk,” Howe said.
The report highlights:
• Socioeconomic: how do we ensure that families can afford a decent standard of living here in NSW?
• Education: how do we ensure that all children – including children experiencing poverty – get a world class education, and have world class educational outcomes?
• Connectedness: how do we ensure that all children, including children experiencing poverty, are safe, and connected with their communities and the world around them?
• Housing: how do we ensure that all children and families have a safe, secure, decent and affordable roof over their head?
• Health: how do we ensure that all children are healthy, and have access to the health services they need when they need them?
NCOSS said it will be running Forums to talk about the experience of people in the community and NFP organisations’ experience working with children and families.