by GRACE JOHNSON
The cost-of-living crisis continues to be one of the biggest barriers to children’s education, a new survey by The Smith Family has found.
The rising cost of living disproportionately affects those already disadvantaged. This is especially concerning after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced a raise in the cash rate yesterday (Tuesday 7 November), a decision that Treasurer Jim Chalmers said will be “incredibly difficult” for struggling families.
The Smith Family Pulse Survey, an annual survey of parents and carers, was conducted between September 6-20. 2,284 people responded.
The survey found that more than half of respondents (56.3 per cent) found it hard or very hard to afford things their children needed for school. Just over 52 per cent cited increases in everyday expenses, but this will undoubtedly rise with the Reserve Bank of Australia’s announcement that the cash rate will increase yet again.
One respondent said, “With the cost of everything going up, I struggle to pay for my basic household bills. I can’t provide the everyday things for my son to make him feel like he fits in with his friends and [has] the same life as they have.”
Another participant said that the “cost of living has made it hard to access things [my children] need like a replacement uniform and new subject materials.
Cost of living threatening children’s education
The CEO of the Smith Family, Doug Taylor said families already experiencing disadvantage have been pushed to the brink in recent times due to inflationary pressures.
“This is the second year in a row that our families have told us how much the cost-of-living crisis is threatening their children’s education,” he said.
“After allocating funds for vital needs such as food, housing, petrol and bills, many are finding it impossible to be able to afford the increasing costs for the things their children need to fully participate in their learning.”
Currently one in six Australian children are growing up in poverty, limiting their ability to make the most of their education and achieve their full potential.
Mr Taylor said, “Students experiencing disadvantage often start school behind their more advantaged peers. By the time they reach Year 9, they can be four or more years behind their peers in literacy and numeracy.”
The RBA board decided on Tuesday to increase its cash rate 25 points to 4.35 per cent, the highest it’s been in 12 years.
In her post-meeting statement, the Reserve Bank’s governor Michele Bullock warned that it may not be the last.
“Whether further tightening of monetary policy is required to ensure that inflation returns to target in a reasonable time frame will depend upon the data and the evolving assessment of risks,” she noted.