The cost-of-living crisis has been laid bare in a new report that shows nearly 60 per cent of Australian families are struggling to make ends meet.
For the first time, the Suicide Prevention Australia Community Tracker has found more than half of households with children under the age of 18 are reporting rising economic distress.
This is prompting calls for the Federal Government to step in and give Australians greater access to help.
In just a three-month period, 56 per cent of family homes recorded having cost-of-living stress, compared to 36 per cent the quarter earlier.
The report also reveals households with children are twice as likely to call a suicide prevention hotline for help nationally, after reporting some of the highest rates of suicidal behaviours and mental illness diagnoses in the past 12 months.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO Nieves Murray said the findings were a “warning sign” of what was being felt in the family homes of ordinary Australians and urged the Commonwealth to do more.
“Feeding the family and keeping a roof over our heads are two of the most basic human needs. While interest rates are a matter for the RBA board, we must be prepared and proactive to prevent distress and suicide rates from continuing to rise,” Ms Murray said.
“We know that suicide is complex and often linked to many risk factors like personal debt, unemployment, family breakdown, social isolation, and mental health.
“Suicide doesn’t discriminate and has an overwhelming ripple effect across families, friends, workplaces and communities.”
Of the more than 1000 people surveyed across the country, 28 per cent with children found housing access and affordability their second biggest concern, along with family and relationship breakdowns.
A total of 26 per cent said they felt social isolation and loneliness, and 20 per cent had unemployment and job security worries.
Just 12 per cent of family households said they were feeling an impact on easing cost-of-living pressures from the Federal Budget.
More Australians — 54 per cent — are now saying the Federal Budget’s relief measures will not ease cost-of-living pressures compared to 31 per cent who believe it will improve their situation.
A quarter think it will actually leave them worse off.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said: “We know that people are under significant pressure, which is why the Government’s number-one priority is to roll out billions of dollars in cost-of-living relief to take some of the edge off these inflationary pressures without making them worse.
“We are realistic about the challenges in the 12 months ahead but we are optimistic about the future of our economy and our country.”
It comes as the national economy grew in the June quarter just 0.4 per cent, with household savings falling for the seventh consecutive quarter — and the ratio of savings to income is now at its lowest in 15 years.
“It is clear from the data that Australian families are having to work more hours to keep their head above water,” shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said.
“It is clear from the data that Australian families are having to dig deeper into their savings.”