Children going hungry
LAST week we released a national report revealing one in five children in Australia are going hungry each year.
That’s almost half a million rumbling tummies. In fact it is more likely for a child to go hungry than an adult in Australia today.
The survey of 1000 parents in food insecure households found:
- One-in-three children in food insecure homes experience hunger at least once a month;
- One in 10 children in food insecure homes go a whole day each week without eating at all;
- 18 per cent of children from food insecure homes go to school without eating breakfast;
- 15 per cent of children from food insecure homes go to school without lunch; and
- 11 per cent of children from food insecure homes go to bed without eating dinner.
This might seem unfathomable to many. But it is the stark reality for many thousands of desperate parents seeking food relief through our charity partners.
In my travels around Victoria I’ve heard of kids chewing paper at school to stave off hunger, missing out on birthday parties because there’s no food to share with friends, and of parents’ utter despair at being unable to provide the most basic necessity – food – for their children.
While people are quick to judge and label parents irresponsible, assuming they spend all their money on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, the reality is the main cause of this crisis is the increasing cost of living.
There’s already been plenty of talk about this. Stagnant wages, casualisation of the workforce, skyrocketing costs of housing, health insurance and energy.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies has published research that found the weekly costs of raising one child range from $140 for unemployed families and $170 for low-paid families.
With the national minimum wage currently sitting at $694.90 per 38 hour week (before tax), you can see how a single income household, with two or three kids, struggles to cover rent or mortgage repayments, utilities, transport, education, insurances, clothing and food costs.
So what would you do to keep afloat? I imagine like the parents in our survey you’d skip paying bills, borrow money, pawn household items, rack up credit card debt and go without food yourself to feed your kids.
Despite all these measures, there are still children going to school or bed hungry and sometimes not eating anything at all for an entire day.
We cannot blame and shame parents when we have a minimum wage and income support system that is failing. It’s failing and it’s impacting our kids, our future.
Dave McNamara, chief executive, Foodbank Victoria
Roads pledge welcomed
A PLEDGE by the Victorian Liberal-National Coalition to provide significant funding for rural road and bridge infrastructure should it be elected to government has been warmly welcomed.
The Coalition last week undertook that all Victorian rural councils will receive about $1 million per annum for four years if elected to government at November’s state election.
This has been one of the major advocacy issues which Rural Councils Victoria has lobbied for on behalf of our rural communities. In our submission to the 2018-19 Victorian Budget we made it clear that our roads are the links that keep rural Victoria’s economy alive, but they’re falling apart.
With small ratepayer populations, limited sources of revenue and thousands of kilometres of roads to maintain, rural councils are struggling to manage extensive road and bridge infrastructure.
State government support means the difference between a dangerous and poorly maintained road network and a vibrant rural economy. This cash investment would go a long way to maintaining the key road links that keep Victoria’s produce and visitor economy going.
We welcome the pledge made by the Coalition and call on the Labor Government to share our commitment to ensuring that rural councils will be able to maintain the roads all Victorians rely on.
Rob Gersch, chairman, Rural Councils Victoria
Sceptical about funding
I WRITE regarding the Coalition’s roads funding pledge.
They can pledge all they like but we have become accustomed to the “black hole in the records” excuse that one must be excused for scepticism.
The leading article in the same issue is headlined,” Hunger strikes children”.
These are two manifestations of the total inadequacy of the Keynes economic doctrine to cope with the needs of the 21st century.
Where will a government led by Matthew Guy get the money? Every entity, city or country, reliant on the public purse is crying out for funding. Will this magic hat government take from other cash strapped entities such as education, health, policing, and ambos or – heaven forbid – the outright urgency of relieving Melbourne’s gridlock, a direct outcome of this starry-eyed adulation of the nebulous “growth” concept.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy, our local representative in the state’s parliament, has released a wishlist of projects in the Horsham municipality.
Almost all on the list are on highways – the responsibility of VicRoads and the government itself and should not be channelled through municipal funding.
That amount of money is but a day – or maybe a week – in the life of the borer vibrating many buildings in the path of the current rail upgrade in Melbourne.
Ron Fischer, Horsham