Charities say hunger on the rise
AUSTRALIA’S biggest food relief charity has revealed last year saw a 20 per cent surge in the number of hungry West Australians coming to it for food.
Foodbank Australia will today call on the Morrison Government to end hunger in the country within the next decade in the face of everincreasing demand and rising food insecurity.
The latest Hunger Report, to be released by Foodbank Australia today, shows its WA operation would need 30 per cent more resources to be able to meet total demand, despite 414 Foodbank agencies and 501,000 meals already being delivered each month.
Foodbank WA chief executive Greg Hebble said the charity had known the situation was bad “but this year’s report confirms that it’s getting worse”.
“To be in the so-called lucky country and to see that much of an increase in the number of people experiencing food insecurity year on year is not good enough,” Mr Hebble said.
More than a quarter of women nationwide have experienced food insecurity, according to the report, compared with 18 per cent of men.
More than half of women who experience food insecurity have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, and 49 per cent have raised children on their own for an extended period of time.
The report also shows women who struggle to feed themselves and their children experience higher levels of anxiety and stress, and are twice as likely as men to feel like a “bad parent” when there is not enough food in the house.
Mr Hebble said it was clear the problem was not going away.
“What point do we need to get to before something changes?” he said. “What is required is a long-term, whole-ofgovernment plan to tackle this crisis head-on.
“We are calling for a commitment to introduce a national food security strategy to ensure we achieve zero hunger in this country by 2030.”
Perth woman Deborah Ralph-Kafarela, who became a single mother to four children when she ended an abusive marriage, said no one was immune to finding themselves in a position where they were unable to feed the family.
She said she first started using Foodbank 12 years ago after being forced to give up her business because of illness.
“There were times when all we had to eat was Weet-Bix for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we had to go hungry a bit,” she said. She said more assistance was needed to meet demand.
“A lot of women walk away from domestic violence or divorce with nothing,” she said.
“They have very little money and they struggle to put food on the table.
“It’s even harder when there are kids involved.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Social Services said from January the Commonwealth had increased food relief funding to $1.33 million a year, up from $1 million a year.
“The Government values input from its funded food relief providers, Foodbank Australia, OzHarvest and Secondbite, and is committed to working with these organisations and emergency relief providers to ensure Australians in need can access food relief,” she said.
Foodbank WA chief executive Greg Hebble in the organisation's distribution centre. Picture: Danella Bevis