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On the brink: the brutal toll of Australia's cost of living crisis

A special report on the many faces of Australia's cost of living crisis, from a team of The Burne reporters.

From the housing shortage, to mental health issues, to the unique challenges facing domestic violence victims, The Burne records a snapshot in time as our team finds Australians from all walks of life struggling to cope.

The soaring cost of living is being felt in every aspect of society -- and calls for greater government intervention to help those doing it tough are reaching a fever pitch.

Organisations on the frontline of the crisis say they are seeing unprecedented demand for their services, and today The Burne publishes a series of reports from our team of student reporters covering every aspect of the challenges facing Australians in 2023.

At the Salvation Army, the iconic welfare group is finding that people seeking help are citing the cost of living crunch as the specific reason for them reaching out -- not, as it usually is, a job loss or a sudden emergency that has left them to be struggling to survive.

Now it is just the basic cost of what is officially described as "non-discretionary spending" -- the things wee cannot do without, like food, a roof over our heads, transport and medical expenses.

Xanda Brown viewing his Afterpay history. Buy Now, Pay Later services are among the drivers of increasing economic stress. (Photo: Ruby Alexander)

Jennifer Kirkaldy, the Salvoes general manager for policy and advocacy, told The Burne: “A third of everyone who comes to us is identifying cost of living.”

The cost of living crisis is driving unprecedented demand for help, says Jennifer Kirkaldy. (Photo: Supplied)

“When we drill down into the budgets of people that we’re working with, we find that it is the non-negotiables ... housing, medicine, groceries, food ... that have really increased at a much higher rate than the economy-wide CPI (consumer price index),” she said.

At Tenants Victoria, the advocacy group is also seeing a tidal wave of demand -- thousands of calls for help, of which it can deal with only a fraction.

Tenants Victoria wants a cap on rental increases, says Farah Farouque. (Photo: Supplied)

Tenants Victoria Farah Farouque told The Burne: “The problem with the affordable housing challenge is that it’s not going to be solved overnight. It comes from long neglect. We need responses from the local council level, state government level, and the federal government level.”

For our full series of stories on the cost-of-living crisis, click here.


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