According to an interesting report of news agency Xinhua from Canberra, debt assistance services have warned that a record number of elderly Australians are living in poverty.
The National Debt Helpline (NDH), the government's financial counselling service, is on-track to receive a record number of calls in 2018 and staff have observed a marked increase in the number of older Australians who cannot pay their rent or mortgage.
"Call volumes are huge," Karen Cox, a coordinator with the Financial Rights Legal Centre, which runs the NDH, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday. "We're at capacity in terms of the number of calls we can take."
According to the report, the proportion of people accessing the service aged 55 and older has increased 37 percent since 2008. Moneycare financial counsellor Kristen Hartnett said that there had been a big increase in the number of callers considered to be in "severe debt," which is defined as debt worth more than six times a person's disposable income.
"The trigger may be someone who can't afford hot water, that's when they connect with us," Hartnett said. "For someone else it might be legal action, or someone says they can't afford the next bill."
Furthermore, according to a new report ("Poverty in Australia 2018") issued by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) shows there are just over three million people (13.2%) living below the relative poverty line, including 739,000 children (17.3% of children).
One in eight adults and more than one in six children are living in poverty, and many of those are living in “deep poverty” – a staggering $135 per week below the poverty line on average.
“The government argues that poverty in Australia is not the problem. They are wrong. People on the lowest incomes cannot afford to pay for the very basics of life – housing, food, energy, health and getting their teeth fixed" says Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of Acoss and adds: “Poverty is now a consistent feature of Australian life. Are we prepared to accept this?”