'Can't Afford To Live': The Impact of the Rising Cost of Living on Victorians and Tasmanians on Low Incomes

This report provides evidence that the rising cost of living is deepening financial, housing and food insecurity, and impacting mental and physical health, while also increasing social isolation.

The research was undertaken by Uniting in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact at the Swinburne University of Technology (CSI Swinburne) in order to better understand the impact of cost of living rises on consumers of community services.

Specifically, the research sought to understand:

  1. What was the impact on the lives of consumers, if any, of the rising cost of living?
  2. What are the current needs of consumers?
  3. What would make the biggest positive difference to the lives of consumers now?

Uniting consumers across 15 emergency relief sites in Tasmania and Victoria were surveyed over a three-and-a-half-week period in August 2022.

The report found:

  • 92% of respondents were cutting back on food and groceries due to cost
  • 70% were unable to eat well
  • Parents, carers and people with a disability were skipping meals even if cooking for others
  • Two thirds reported pressure from the rising cost of energy bills
  • Half of respondents were cutting back on heating
  • One in two were experiencing mental health impacts resulting from the cost of living increases
  • Half of respondents reported impacts on their housing situation with Tasmanians 25% more likely to report their housing situation
  • Women were more frequently experiencing cost pressures and were more negatively impacted across life areas than men
  • 11% felt more at risk of family violence as a result of costs of living