Today’s interest rate increase by the Reserve Bank of Australia is another setback for the growing number of Australians struggling to keep a roof over their heads and to put food on the table as the ongoing cost-of-living crisis moves life’s necessities further from reach.
The 50-basis point hike – the third increase in as many months – will be felt by all Australians, but its most harmful impacts will be experienced by the three million Australians living in poverty or at risk of falling into disadvantage.
Vinnies is seeing a sharp increase in demand for support as the surging cost-of-living, shortage of affordable housing and increasingly insecure work combine to make it all-but impossible for a growing number of Australians to survive.
The cost of today’s official interest rate rise will in large part be passed from landlords to renters. Around a third of Australians rent their homes, according to the most recent Census released last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Renters have been under enormous pressure over the past few years as rents have spiralled out of control and vacancies hit record lows. The extent of the rental crisis was laid bare by a recent survey that showed only five rentals across Australia were considered affordable for a single person on JobSeeker out of more than 45,000 listings.
That a country as wealthy as Australia has allowed so many of its citizens to live in such precarity is an indictment of our leaders. It is incompatible with any notion of a ‘fair go’.
We were heartened to see the Albanese Government’s commitment to leave no Australian behind and to address long-term trends through structural reforms, such as a National Housing and Homelessness Plan.
But immediate support needs to be provided to help the millions of Australians struggling to make ends meet today.
We call on the Albanese Government to increase JobSeeker and Commonwealth Rent Assistance, and to reinstate the National Rental Affordability Scheme.
We urge the Government to work with their state and territory counterparts to priortise the introduction of national minimum rental standards to protect Australians who rent their homes against unfair evictions, unreasonable rent increases, discrimination and landlords who refuse to maintain properties.
A safe home is a human right and one that should be available to all Australians.
The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 45,000 members and volunteers who operate across Australia to lift people out of poverty.