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Anti-Poverty Week research reveals a third of all working Australians continue to risk poverty due to pandemic

New Good Shepherd research commissioned for Anti-Poverty Week 2021 has revealed that more than a third of all working Australians continued to be negatively financially impacted in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research covering April 2020 to June 2021 shows 2021 figures with only a marginal drop (34%) from 2020 (41%), showing that the pandemic has now had a continued impact putting Australians at risk of poverty.

Good Shepherd ANZ CEO Stella Avramopoulos says the 2021 figures are consistent with the anecdotal evidence reported by frontline workers.

“Sadly, this research confirms that the pandemic impacts of 2020 have continued to put more Australians at risk of poverty than ever before in 2021,” Ms Avramopoulos said.

“It was hoped that the numbers would drop dramatically after the 2020 spike, but the emergence of the ‘newly vulnerable’ cohort in 2020 has grown at a similar rate in 2021. We are concerned that this effect may be entrenched for some time yet, exposing more to the issues that Anti-Poverty Week annually highlights.

“Good Shepherd is helping stabilise vulnerable people’s finances through No Interest Loans and other programs, but it’s now apparent that we are dealing with long-term impact cases.”

“Many people who have never dealt with these issues before are at risk of slipping into long-term poverty, and this is exposing the weaknesses in the service navigation systems which many are struggling to access.”

More than half (2.65 million) of those 4.7 million Australians whose employment was negatively impacted were already on low incomes. This group includes an over representation of recently arrived people, women, young people, unskilled or semi-skilled workers, and sole traders/small business owners.

Of these newly vulnerable households, around 66% had been affected by a reduction in working hours, almost 50% had seen a business slow or stop completely, and 40% had been stood down from work for a period.

Nearly 60% of this newly vulnerable group who had lost their job were still without employment.

Beyond financial stress, Good Shepherd’s front-line workers have seen a concerning upward trend in issues relating to mental health, family relationships and housing.

“Good Shepherd’s family violence case management support, after hour crisis response and requests for high security crisis accommodation nearly doubled in the 20-21 Financial Year as more women and their families’ needed services.” Ms Avramopoulos said.

Good Shepherd is working on ways to service all of those in need with the support of State and Federal Governments.

Support is available now, including for people on low incomes via services like No Interest Loans. For more information on eligibility call 13 6457.

The executive summary and full research can be viewed here.

For more information or for media comment from Good Shepherd please contact Shannon Gill on 0418 162 761.