Hidden Crisis: 10 Facts About Hunger in Australia

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Australia
Australia, by definition, is a developed nation. Despite it’s commonly perceived status as a “first world nation,” though, Australia faces a sizeable food crisis that has only gained momentum over the past decade. Here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Australia.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Australia

  1. High Costs of Living are Causing Food Insecurity: Over the past year, Australia’s economy has grown an impressive 3.1 percent. This bodes well for livelihoods within the nation but also comes with an assortment of costs. Chief among these is the rising cost of living within the nation. Rising costs of living, directly and indirectly, impact livelihoods in a variety of ways, but most importantly, they can drive people into a state of food insecurity. Food insecurity means that they cannot adequately feed themselves or their family.
  2. Child Hunger is a Key Component of the Crisis: As previously stated, food insecurity is a direct symptom of rising costs of living in Australia. Many of those experiencing food insecurity in Australia are children. A report published earlier this year by Foodbank Australia, entitled “Rumbling Tummies,” found that more than 1 in 5 Australian children were subjected to food insecurity over the past year, meaning they regularly missed meals due to financial reasons.
  3. Australia’s Hunger Crisis is a “Hidden” Crisis: Due to Australia’s global high-income status, people are often shocked to hear that many of its citizens, as many as 1 in 6, go hungry every day. This dichotomy creates a “hidden” crisis, as images of Australia as an established first world nation mask the millions of common Australian households facing food insecurity.
  4. More and More Families are Being Impacted: According to a report by the Foodbank Organization, there was a 10 percent increase in food-insecure families throughout Australia. These findings suggest that this crisis is only now mounting, and will require further attention down the road to be adequately addressed.
  5. A Broad Range of Australians Faces Food Insecurity: Food insecurity impacts a wide strata of different Australians groups. As many as 50 percent of food-insecure Australians are employed, which points to the deep impact that rising living costs have brought about in Australia. Food insecurity affects young, old, rural and metropolitan Australians; it’s not a crisis that falls on one group.
  6. Food Insecurity Promotes Feelings of Depression and Negativity: Food insecurity is a challenge that frequently gives rise to emotional complications, according to a group of surveyed Australians. Depression, the most commonly reported feeling associated with food insecurity, was accompanied by smaller rates of stress, embarrassment, shame, and sadness. Cleary, Australia’s food crisis is more nuanced than a simple lack of resources. This crisis is multi-faceted, and, in turn, its response should go beyond just providing at-risk communities access to food banks and food stamps. The emotional ramifications of the crisis should be considered as well.
  7. Poverty, and In Turn Food Insecurity, is a Hard Trend to Buck: According to a report published by the University of Melbourne, the idea that poverty is short-lived for most Australians is a dominant narrative within the nation. This idea is misguided though, as less than 15 percent of Australians below the poverty line escape poverty on a yearly basis. This suggests that poverty in Australia is a pervasive condition and that treating its root causes cannot be swept under the rug if rates of food insecurity are to be reduced in the nation.
  8. More Australians Than You Think Live Below the Poverty Line: While the Australian poverty line is an occasionally unreliable metric, it can be used to make general inferences about the number of Australian citizens that are struggling to make ends meet, and, in turn, put food on the table. The population of Australia is roughly 24 million people, and about three million of these people — after having their housing costs taken into account — are estimated to live below the poverty line. While this number may appear high, it is important to consider that its estimation relied on the inclusion of living costs, which are only continuing to rise in Australia.
  9. A Changing Climate Could Impact Australia’s Hunger Crisis: In 2008, a drought-plagued Murray-Darlin Basin — a watershed in Australia — and led to a seasonal food crisis in the surrounding area. This points to the threat of climate change to the maintenance of food-access stability in Australia.
  10. Cultural Barriers Can Lead to Food Insecurity: Recent immigrants and those not originally from Australia face higher rates of food insecurity due to a lack of cultural knowledge on local food customs. These groups are more susceptible to food insecurity for a variety of other reasons as well, and, like indigenous groups in Australia, typically face higher rates of food insecurity.

Complex and Multifaceted

Hunger in Australia operates at multiple levels and impacts groups differently across a vast range of the socio-political spectrum. Due to this pervasiveness and complexity, the treatment of the hunger crisis in this developed nation will require a broad, multilateral approach.

– Ian Greenwood
Photo: Flickr