This Christmas too many Western Australians will be living with the Sound of Hunger

This Christmas there are more families living with food insecurity than before the pandemic.

In the richest State, the situation for our community is not one of prosperity for all. There is a new segment in our community that have never struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their family.

Key statistics

  • 270,000 Western Australians are living below the poverty line
  • Over 94,000 children are living in poverty in Western Australia
  • 66% of people on low incomes are left with under $14 a day after rent and mortgage payments
  • Foodbank WA provides approximately 490,000 meals each month
  • We are serving almost 40% more customers since the start of the pandemic
  • 64% of people coming forward are employed but just don’t have enough for food everyday
  • Both a new socio-demographic and the traditionally vulnerable are needing our assistance

In our largest branch where before the COVID-19 pandemic we would normally see approximately 80 people a day collect food, now we are seeing over 160 people per day. And we know that we are not seeing all the people who are skipping meals and going hungry because they can’t afford food.

There are a number of reasons why people that need assistance don’t ask for help including they believe that others are in more need, lack of transport options to get our services or too embarrassed to come forward.

The Sound of Hunger

We associate the sounds of Christmas with the sound of wrapping paper ripping as we open our gifts as a family, the sound of pork crackling in the oven and the sound of happy chatter, laughter, music and dancing around the dining table.

For the families that needing food assistance their Christmas will sound very different.

While we can’t see hunger, we can hear it. The low grumbling of a hungry stomach, both recognisable and unsettling, just like hunger itself.

…it can be the sound of kids teasing and laughing at a child with an empty lunchbox
…it can be the sound of couples screaming at each other over unpaid bills
…it can be the sound of busy street noise for the homeless with no walls to block out the noise
…it can be the sound of crying alone when it all seems too much

Our Sound of Hunger Christmas Appeal is urgently asking for donations to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of Western Australians who are struggling to afford enough food this Christmas.

Demand for our services has never been so great. We continue to deal with the impact of the pandemic and this year’s natural disasters.

At the height of COVID-19 the Government stepped up and increased JobSeeker and introduced JobKeeper and the rent moratorium. These support mechanisms helped keep many Western Australians afloat – temporarily decreasing the number of people experiencing food insecurity. However, the vulnerable became even more vulnerable and people who had never experienced food insecurity before now need our help.

When Government assistance ended on 31 March 2021, the number of people experiencing food insecurity climbed again.  Queues at Foodbank WA branches and mobile locations grew.

Anecdotally, we heard that some clients were ‘doing ok’ with Government assistance. They even managed to save a bit for a rainy day. 10 months on though, their savings are depleted, and they are relying on our help even more. Demand for our services has increased 38% since the start of the pandemic.

66% of people on low incomes are left with under $14 a day after rent and mortgage payments.

Foodbank WA CEO Kate O’Hara said “For most people they can choose to listen to the Sound of Hunger and it will be over in minutes. For too many Western Australians this is the soundtrack to their lives, and they cannot turn it off. It can be deafening.”

The need for food relief in Western Australia continues to grow.

“Last year we provided over 6.7 million meals to Western Australians, a staggering 300,000 more than the previous year. We are expecting to provide 7 million meals this financial year. There is still a lot of people are going without,” said Ms O’Hara, “We’re urging the community to dig deep and help us silence the awful sound of hunger.”

You can listen and donate at soundofhunger.com.au.

If you or someone you know is struggling to afford food, please seek assistance by calling The Emergency Relief & Food Assistance Hotline 1800 979 777, Monday to Friday 9.00am -5.00pm.

 

Media contact:

Moira Aynsley | Marketing and Communications Manager
08 9463 3218 | 0433 567 224