I spent 6 months in hospital last year and resigned my job as if and when I can return to work is uncertain. I suffer chronic pain and am no longer able to drive. Nor is it safe for me to take public transport. And you certainly can’t afford taxis. My medical problems are numerous but I’ve been told I don’t qualify for disability... Every shopping day is stressful. No haircuts. I have to buy expensive shoes because of nerve damage. I can’t get to see the specialist I need to because the wait list is a year and I can’t afford to go private. I’m thankful for what I have but it’s so hard for us both. The depression and anxiety I feel is worse knowing that I have nothing to fall back on if things go wrong again. I rely on the kindness of friends. Our [life] shouldn’t be this tough. And I know there are many more with stories as bad or worse than mine. *Name has been changed. Photo representative only, copyright Austockphoto


I was homeless at 15. Youth Allowance meant that I didn’t starve to death, but it did mean that on top of the challenge of finishing high school while essentially couch surfing and moving 11 times in my senior years, I was hungry. I didn’t get any help to manage the allowance I received and I would often run out of food well before my next payment and drink water to try and fill up enough just to get to sleep. It also meant that I entered adulthood with a terrible credit history, as the allowance I had didn’t stretch to cover electricity, rent and other bills. I spent hours each month in distressing phone calls begging for extensions from power companies etc. It just didn’t stretch that far. It was time I could have been studying like my peers and doing better at school and university. *Name has been changed. Photo representative only, from Bruce Dixon on Unsplash.


After years of mental and financial abuse, I finally got the strength to leave my marriage. I knew things were going to be tough, but I never dreamed of the horrible situations the last 6 years would bring to me. Initially I was homeless for 10 months, just couch surfing with friends and family, but managing to keep my job. I was able to secure a townhouse for my teenage daughter and I to live in for 3 years, using my child support and rent assistance... I had a total mental breakdown, and was couch surfing once again. At this time I was apparently on high priority emergency housing with public housing. Trouble is, during the time you are “supposedly” on emergency housing, usually your mental state is in no state to be able to gather all the paperwork [required]... I am now on $570.00 a fortnight, I pay $400 a fortnight on rent [in a private rental] which leaves $170 a fortnight to exist on (you definitely don’t live on it). I am 56, have never been on any government benefits until I…


Sarah* lives in Victoria. She was unemployed for more than a year. "Being without paid work was very, very hard. I've definitely struggled. Very isolating - I lost touch with friends because I couldn't afford to do anything other than pay my rent. It was a very difficult time." (Not their real name. Photo by Edgar Hernández on Unsplash. Representational only. Sarah is a survey respondent from ACOSS (2018): Voices of Unemployment.)


Paul is a 47-year old single male who was made redundant 18 months ago, after 27 years in the public service, the only job he ever knew. Paul bought a house after separating from his partner two years ago. He now lives alone and has fortnightly weekend visits from his school age children. Paul receives income from JobSeeker, as well as from a casual job he has delivering junk mail for $100 per fortnight. He has been diagnosed with depression, has high cholesterol, and complications from a stomach operation. His budget leaves him with a $60 deficit per fortnight, meaning he has no money for car repairs and other unexpected costs. Without an increase in his income, Paul will continue to be in severe financial hardship. (Source: Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand. Photo by Trevor Brown on Unsplash. Image representational only)


Amina is a 44-year-old single mother from a migrant background and has been actively seeking fulltime employment for two years. She has four children, between 7 - 20 years old. Her eldest child is currently studying. Amina receives $1,500 per fortnight – $500 of which is from working part-time as a cleaner, $500 from JobSeeker and $500 from income support payments she is eligible to receive as a single parent. Amina has always been up to date with her mortgage repayments however this has come at the cost of paying off her utilities arrears and being able to afford to eat three meals a day. She has had to use a cash converters loan to pay her most recent rates bill. (Source: Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand. Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash. Image representational only)