Trigger warning: this article contains references to suicide.
For some, the cost of living crisis might be considered to be a melodramatic term. If your life hasn’t changed recently, you could very well believe it’s just a concept that’s just been invented by the media. However, such a reality would be preferable to what’s actually happening. Because the cost of everything is so high, it’s forcing people to go to extreme lengths.
For instance, Finder surveyed 1001 people about whether or not they’ve increased or decreased the amount of health care cover they receive. In the last six months, 45% of those polled haven’t had any hospital cover. Meanwhile, 7% decreased their cover and 6% cancelled said cover completely.
“Aussies have been slammed with rising energy bills, petrol prices, and food bills and in many cases insurance is the first non-essential to be cut,” stated Finder’s health insurance expert, Tim Bennett.
He also commented, “Those in the most vulnerable positions are at risk of ignoring health concerns for fear of a medical bill they can’t afford.”
On another worrisome note, Suicide Prevention Australia has said that cost of living pressures and personal debt are the highest risk factors for suicide over the next year. This organisation has expressed that we need more rebates, electricity and gas subsidies, and higher social security payments in order to tackle this risk.
What Has the Federal Government Done?
Since coming into power, the Labor Government fought for a higher minimum wage and has increased the amount of money some folks are getting from Centrelink.
On June 15, the Fair Work Commission upped the minimum hourly rate from $20.33 to $21.38. In terms of percentages, the national minimum wage has increased by 5.2% and award minimums by 4.6%.
Labor’s Ged Kearney outlined in a tweet that this change amounted to an extra $40 each week. They wrote, “This $40 a week increase is the difference between buying fresh veggies for the kids, being able to afford train tickets, and paying the bills on time.”
Additionally, as per Seven News, Centrelink payments changed on September 20. For instance, if you’re on JobSeeker without a partner or kids, you’re now getting an additional $25.70 per fortnight. If you have a partner, the increase was instead $23.40.
However, some experts believed that this increase wasn’t enough to combat the cost of living crisis. The Acting Chief Executive for the Australian Council of Social Service, Edwina MacDonald, was one of these people. She told the ABC that for Centrelink payments to be above the poverty line, the government would have to be giving its citizens $70.00 a day. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case at the moment.
Should the Federal Government Be Doing More?
It would be disingenuous to say that the Labor Government hasn’t done anything to combat the cost of living crisis. Nevertheless, until people’s actual lives are no longer on the line, they should be using all of their powers to eradicate this issue.
For starters, they should be listening to Suicide Prevention Australia’s advice. Because when a suicide prevention organisation gives you some recommendations, those recommendations are worth heeding. Offering more rebates, more subsidies, and improved social security payments would go a long way in making Australia a safer place.
If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs support, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or Lifeline on 13 11 14, both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. You can also talk to someone from 1800RESPECT via online chat. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.