Tasmanians in survival mode

December 12, 2023
media release

New research from Anglicare Tasmania details the physical and emotional toll that cost of living pressures are having on Tasmanians who live on low incomes.

Anglicare’s Survival Mode report calls for government action to raise the base rate of Jobseeker, improve access to healthcare for Tasmanians with chronic conditions, and make Centrelink and employment services less harmful for people.

The report explores the day-to-day experiences of a diverse group of Tasmanians who took part in in-depth interviews and kept a spending diary between July and November this year. It provides a clear picture of their daily struggle to cope with the cost of living crisis and the harm it is causing to their health and quality of life.

Dr Alexandra King from Anglicare Tasmania’s Social Action and Research Centre said the diaries showed people regularly missed out on or rationed groceries, electricity, medicine, health care and social activities. Many stayed home for days at a time to manage their transport costs.

“Participants were understandably stressed and tired, angry and incredulous about their situations,” said Dr King. “They described the time, effort and energy it takes to engage with Centrelink and job network service providers. Some said they felt discriminated against by the social services system.”

Participant *Helena said:

I think the system is designed to be punitive. And it is designed to make people give up.

It is so hard. You have to humiliate yourself … It is horrendous.

It takes a lot more mental and physical energy to survive on less money than it does on a lot. I have done both, and the mental energy is huge, just trying to work out things, what you are going to do, what your priorities are.

Another participant, *Troy, said:

It’s just exhausting and grinding. […] It just compounds week by week. You think, well, ‘What am I going to do this week? What am I going to sacrifice? What can’t I do?’

Dr King said the report also showed Tasmanians on low incomes  were resourceful, creative and hopeful about the possibility of change. Participants expressed empathy for others navigating difficult circumstances, especially those with chronic health conditions.

Survival Mode says improvements to government policies and systems will better protect and support people’s wellbeing. It recommends that the Federal Government:

·         raises the base rate of JobSeeker payment and other working age payments to bring people above the poverty line;

·         addresses the gaps in its support response for people on low incomes and chronic health conditions by eliminating out-of-pocket medical costs for people on low incomes and extending Medicare to dental care;

·         ensures people on low incomes with chronic conditions have coordinated care that suits their individual circumstances; and

·         implements the Robodebt Royal Commission’s recommendations around the need to be responsive to the lived experience of clients.

The report also calls on the Tasmanian Government to actively work to reduce discrimination and stigma for people living on a low income in Tasmania. Dr King said:

We encourage the State Government to consider and include the impact on people living on low incomes when it develops any legislation and policy.

The challenge for government – and for us as a community – is to lift people up rather than drag them down.

It’s about being a community that demonstrates respect and kindness, rather than judging, blaming and shaming people for their circumstances.


Read the full Survival Mode report here.


Click here to find out how to access free and confidential support from one of Anglicare’s professional financial counsellors.

Anglicare Australia recently released two papers that focus on cost of living pressures on the national stage – a call to abolish the Stage 3 tax cuts and a Jobs Availability Snapshot that shows the lack of entry-level job opportunities for long-term unemployed Australians. Read these papers here.

* Actual names have been replaced with pseudonyms.

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