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Opinion: Navigating Australia’s Cost of Living Crisis with a Global Perspective

3 min read
Cost of Living

We are now well and truly into 2024. 

For most Australians, the focus this year will continue to be on managing their own world: their family, their job, schooling, health and any future aspirations. 

Some are facing a time of great financial uncertainty. 

Food banks are being pushed to the brink to serve people who can’t get enough food to eat. 

Housing rates, the cost of electricity, and the cost of daily living have increased significantly, and we have all seen and felt the impact of economic upheaval. 

Leading an overseas not-for-profit in Australia, where our mission is to release children from poverty, there’s a question worth reflecting on: Is It okay to ask for financial support when Australians are doing it tough? Or should we just battle through until things get easier on the home front? 

The stark reality is that waiting is not an option. Daily lives are at risk from an ever-growing global food crisis. 

Each day, 25,000 people, including more than 10,000 children, die from hunger and related causes. 

Many children and their families in these middle- and low-income nations don’t have government assistance or public generosity to rely on. According to the International Labour Organisation, only one in four children around the world have access to a financial safety net. 

For these four billion children and their families, when the food and the money run out, that’s it. There is nowhere for them to turn for help. Nowhere to go for food. That is utter desperation. 

As challenging as the current climate is at home, I believe that real compassion starts when we notice the need of another, which leads us to act. It’s about heartfelt giving, not giving out of ease or convenience. 

I’m reminded of the stories of everyday Australians who have made giving to Compassion a priority, even when it was a stretch for their own budget. 

Their partnership becomes a family commitment. 

Their kids learn about what poverty looks like, see the journey of other children who they are helping and are inspired by these families that find joy and purpose in the most dire of circumstances. 

These stories give me hope because they remind me of the generosity of everyday Australians who give faithfully. 

Not just tending to their own backyard but remembering their global neighbours and giving where it’s needed most. 

Because compassion knows no borders. 

I have seen time and time again the faithfulness of supporters who continue to transform lives and give practical hope in the places where it’s needed most. 

Australians are some of the most generous people on the planet. 

In the past financial year, we surpassed $100 million in revenue—which is a cause for celebration—but even as our donations have increased, so has the need.  The global poverty rate has risen for the first time in two decades, and progress in reducing extreme poverty has faced numerous setbacks. 

There is much more that needs to be done and there is no overnight solution. But we can see a pathway out of poverty because our child development model works.  Ending poverty requires community initiatives, local partnerships and supporters who are willing join our cause. 

Today, we support over 2.3 million children globally. 

What if this was the year that every Australian took a stand for our global community, showing our commitment to equality and fairness? 

Fairness isn’t just an Australian sentiment, it’s a universal belief that every person, regardless of where they were born, should be treated equally. 

And we shouldn’t stop until every child has that chance. Both in Australia and beyond our borders. 

For more on housing, check out the 6th National Housing and Homelessness Forum!

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Clare Steele is the CEO of Compassion Australia. Clare Steele is an experienced executive leader with a strong record across a range of industries in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. A skilled communicator and collaborator, Clare thrives when leading teams to set vision, overcome challenges and grow together through the process.


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