Australia Today

Young People Are Struggling to Afford Food in Australia

About 45 percent of young people are struggling with food insecurity.
Volunteers packing meals
Photo by Asanka Ratnayake / Getty Images

Close to half of Australia’s young people reported some level of food insecurity this year, new research claims, as worsening cost of living pressures continue to turn the screw on people across the country. 

According to new analysis conducted by the Melbourne Institute, about 45 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 said they’d either had to forgo a meal, or that they had eaten less than they should have over the three months leading up to August, because they couldn’t afford it.


The analysis comes as part of the Melbourne Institute’s annual Taking the Pulse of the Nation report, which surveyed 1,058 people across the country in August this year.

Those surveyed were evenly spread among demographics to accurately represent the Australian population which, for months, has been shouldering the weight of a major cost of living spike.

Just last week, new research found that renters paid about $3,000 more to put a roof over their heads than they did the year before. The supermarket giant, Coles, introduced price caps on some essential products a couple of weeks earlier, after a survey found that its customers were buying less because they couldn’t afford it. 

Energy prices are soaring, even as coal and gas exports are on track to hit a record $450 billion this year, and some of the nation’s wealthiest could soon start paying less tax. Now, lower income earners, most of them young, can add rising food prices to the list.


On a state and territory level, Tasmania was home to the highest reported levels of food insecurity. There, just over 55 percent of people under the age of 44 reported either eating less, or skipping meals. 

Next was New South Wales, where about 35 percent of the same age group reported some level of food insecurity; and Queensland, where 30 percent of people aged 18 to 44 reported to have either been eating less or skipping meals. 

Australia is currently seeing the fastest rise in food prices since 2011. The authors of the Melbourne Institute’s report, Dr Ferdi Botha Professor A. Abigail Payne, said that “we should be doing more” to address ongoing food insecurity across the country. 

“The findings from the… survey data highlight that just as financial stress remains an issue for many, we should acknowledge food security is an issue in Australia that requires more attention,” the authors said. 

“These findings suggest we may have a serious emerging issue of food insecurity in Australia.”

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