Funding lifeline as charities brace for 1 million to seek food relief

Foodbank had been forced to buy in food to fill the gap in its usual donations caused by a spate of panic buying in supermarkets, Ms Casey said.

Foodback was assisting 815,000 people late last year in the wake of drought and floods across the country. Ms Casey said it was “fair to assume we will now be asked to assist 1 million people”.

“We have got a mismatch between supply and demand and there are certainly families who would be falling through the cracks.”

The federal government has powers to direct food supply to areas of critical need, including relief organisations. However, Ms Ruston said Australia produces three times more food than it consumes and there would be no need for government to step in “if people just bought what they needed”.

Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston says panic buying has made the situation worse for charities.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen.

Uniting Care national director Claerwen Little is chairwoman of a new National Co-ordination Group which will guide the funding roll-out. She said charity volunteers are typically from older age groups and are staying at home during the pandemic.

“It would be terrific if younger people could help out. Now is a time for us all to pull together and lend a hand,” she said.

Labor charities spokesman Andrew Leigh welcomed the funding announcement, but said there was a need “to keep it in perspective” and warned that Australians are giving less to charities during the coronavirus crisis.

“This is a $130 billion sector, so the $100 million package announced today is less than 1/1000 of the size of the charities covered,” he said.

Mr Leigh praised the government’s changes to the JobKeeper package, which increased the threshold from a 30 per cent drop in revenue to make charities with a 15 per cent drop eligible for government financial assistance for staff. But he urged the government “to go further” and exclude grant revenue from JobKeeper assessments to shield paid staff of larger charitable organisations.


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