Shocking new figures have highlighted the reality of poverty in Australia. The 2019 Foodbank Hunger Report brings together information from surveys of charities and individuals that experience food insecurity.
The report showed that an incredible one in five Australians went hungry at least once over the past year. That is the equivalent of around five million people.
Foodbank – an organisation that provides food relief via charities for more than 810,000 people each month – said that demand for emergency food supplies had increased by around 22% in the last 12 months.
The organisation says that the issue of “food insecurity” in Australia is getting worse. Food insecurity is defined as running out of food and not being able to buy more. People in this situation often skip meals or eat less to make the food they have go further.
Figures in the report show that at least once a week, three in ten people go a whole day without eating. Women are 50% more likely to experience food insecurity than men.
Survey respondents said that an unexpected bill was the most common reason for not having enough money to buy food. The rising cost of living, coupled with poverty-level welfare payments and stagnant wages, are clearly the main underlying drivers of this poverty and hunger.
The fact that so many people go hungry, in one of the richest countries in the world, speaks volumes about how the capitalist system works. There is no question that huge amounts of wealth are being created in Australia, the problem is that it’s being distributed in an unequal way.
Foodbank Australia chief executive Brianna Casey aptly described the situation saying that “we are effectively putting a band-aid on a gaping wound”. The wound itself has been inflicted by a system that puts profits before all else. We need a democratic socialist society that sees things like shelter, clothing and food as basic human rights.
By Anthony Main