Char­i­ties say hunger on the rise

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOANNA DELALANDE

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

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