Australians struggle financially

Costs impact mental health

Australians struggle financially


By Mina Martin

The latest Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) survey, conducted by the Melbourne Institute and Roy Morgan, revealed that Australians continue to face significant financial hardships.

Despite a decrease in inflation from over 7% to 8% in late 2022 and early 2023 to less than 4%, rising costs in housing, utilities, medical bills, and daily expenses are pushing more Australians towards financial vulnerability and potential poverty.

Geographic disparities in economic hardship

The survey categorised communities into three groups based on poverty rates: low, medium, and high poverty.

Findings indicated that while high-poverty communities traditionally report more severe cost-of-living challenges, the recent survey showed that such challenges are now uniformly high across all community types.

In February, significant numbers of respondents across different communities reported difficulties with food, utilities, and medical bills.

Financial challenges and mental health

The survey data suggested a strong correlation between financial hardship and mental distress.

About 60% of respondents facing cost-of-living challenges reported feelings of anxiety or depression, significantly higher than those without such challenges.

“Across all communities, approximately 60% of respondents who claimed a cost-of-living challenge reported feeling anxious or depressed at least some of the time,” the report said.

Emergency fund accessibility diminishes

As the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, fewer Australians are able to save for unforeseen expenses.

The survey reported a decline in the ability of respondents to cover a sudden $3,000 expense, with only 35% to 40% of those experiencing financial challenges able to draw on savings or assets, a drop from previous years.

“The share of respondents reporting they would not be able to cover an emergency expense is alarmingly high (15% to 20%) for those identifying cost-of-living challenges,” the report said.

Looking forward

With the 2024-25 budget proposals aiming to address these rising challenges, there is hope that targeted financial assistance will alleviate some of the pressures faced by the most vulnerable groups, Melbourne Institute and Roy Morgan said.

To read the article in full, visit the Roy Morgan website.

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