Young people and tertiary students have been hit hard by the current cost of living crisis, with many finding it difficult to pay their rent and purchase groceries.
Students are struggling to support themselves adequately as grocery and housing prices continue to rise in Australia, due to the indexation increase, putting charities under pressure.
University of Wollongong alumni and Pulse Pantry volunteer Soutara Potter said that she has witnessed the significantly upsetting impact that the current cost of living crisis has had on students.
“I’ve definitely seen It, the stresses that they have in relation to trying to afford their rent and expenses, but also trying to work on top of that,” Miss Potter said.
She also said that there has also been a decrease in social involvement on campus, as students struggle with maintaining a life balance.
“There’s students where we’ve definitely seen them become disengaged because they’ve had to work more,” she said.
Australia’s current cost of living crisis is due to the inflation of expenses relating to housing, utilities, food and other resources, resulting from supply chain issues and population growth.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that simple grocery items such as milk and cheese have risen by 15 per cent since 2022, leaving many individuals relying on low-quality foods. Additionally, PropTrack Australia’s data found that only 16.2% of rental listings were under $400 a week in 2023, making it difficult for students to live independently.
UOW student Lucy Selmes, 18, is one of many students who is struggling to manage a range of responsibilities while maintaining a social agenda. She explains that has been left her feeling vulnerable to financial pressures and is concerned about her future.
“It’s like you can either work and live and be able to afford things… or you can study and get a good degree,” Ms Selmes said.
“I get stressed day by day as I get closer to finishing Uni. Because after I finish Uni, I don’t know where I’m going to go. I would like to have my own place, but I really don’t see that happening.”
Students can alleviate the current financial pressure by accessing services such as Pulse Pantry.
Pulse Pantry provides free food and pantry staples to any student in need in the face of financial insecurity, Ms Potter said.
Pulse Pantry runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am to 1pm during semester sessions.
Students can find it in Building 11, next to the ‘Green Connect Op shop’ on the UOW campus.