One photo of a warehouse has highlighted the devastating scale of a worsening “silent crisis” gripping Australia.
Thousands of Aussies are only barely scraping by every day and have, more than ever, become reliant on charity providers like Good360.
Founded by Alison Covington in 2015, the organisation works with businesses like Big W and Harvey Norman to facilitate the donation of excess goods to charities across the country.
A spike in the need for essentials during the Covid pandemic, furthered by catastrophic flooding, was nothing on the current “silent crisis”, Ms Covington told news.com.au.
“We thought we were busy in Covid, we just blew out in terms of the support we had to provide, but it’s twice as much now in the cost of living crisis,” she said.
“We call it the silent crisis because you can’t see it. Nobody can see the pain of the cost of living crisis, so the charity sector is not being funded.”
“We’re on our knees because we’ve got twice as much requirement on us to support Australians, but no funding to do all the work.”
In the eight years since Good360 had been in operation, “more Australians have become vulnerable”, Ms Covington revealed.
“We’ve had more disasters and a pandemic and the cost of living crisis. I didn’t realise that we would be needed so much.”
One of the most prominent gaps that Good360 was working to bridge was the “digital divide”, which was particularly heightened during the pandemic when the world became reliant on smart devices.
“One in four Australians don’t have access to digital and that’s something most Australians haven’t actually understood,” she said.
“We have really moved into working with partners to get computers and to get computers refurbished to hand out at schools, and we worked with Optus to get access to data.”
“If you imagine the number of people who can’t afford to put food on the table, of course they can’t afford a computer or the cost of data.”
Good360 operates using an online marketplace that allows charities from all over the country to filter through goods their recipients need and place an order for them to be delivered.
The charity supports an astounding two people every minute, equivalent to 3000 people every day.
“That’s just staggering in a country as beautiful as ours, that so many people need help,” Ms Covington said.
Demand has ‘doubled’ in one year
One beneficiary of Good360’s work was Meals on Wheels, which supports hundreds of struggling Australians every week with pallets of food, clothing and toiletries.
Senior co-ordinator Tennille Valensisi told news.com.au while there was enormous demand during Covid, it had been eclipsed by the volume of help needed in the past year.
“In the last 12 months with the cost of living we’ve seen a huge increase. Our food hampers have doubled. There’s a lot more people looking for assistance,” Ms Valensisi said.
“Financially they’re struggling. Everything’s gone up – electricity and fuel – and they’re really struggling to make ends meet.”
The work of Meals on Wheels had never been more needed and was having “a huge impact” on communities, Ms Valensisi said.
Some of Australia’s biggest retailers and lifestyle brands including BIG W, Harvey Norman, IKEA Australia, LJ Hooker, Koh, Appliances Online, Manicare and Nutra Organics, are
throwing their weight behind Good360’s inaugural EveryOne Day on Thursday (October 12).
The charity is aiming to raise $5 million to support Australians in financial distress, with funds to be used by Good360 to deliver millions of unsold consumer goods.
“It’s not just well-known businesses like BIG W, Harvey Norman, IKEA Australia, and LJ Hooker that are stepping up on EveryOne Day; workplaces and schools across the nation are also organising their own fundraising events,” Ms Covington said.
“Whether it’s a mufti day at school, or wearing something sparkly to work, to shine for people and planet at a fundraising morning tea, thousands of Australians are planning to participate in EveryOne Day in a bid to help both people and our planet.”
BIG W has vowed to match customer donations through a round up campaign instore, which head of communications Vanessa Churnin said aligned the retailer with its “commitment to supporting communities around the country by donating funds and excess goods to achieve zero waste.”