Surging rents and stagnant wages are impacting the critical workforce, including ECEC

Surging rents and stagnant wages are impacting the critical workforce, including ECEC

by Freya Lucas

March 11, 2022

As Australia awaits the announcement of the date for the upcoming federal election, which must be held on or before 21 May 2022, the four marginal seats of Flinders (Victoria), Gilmore (NSW), Bass (Tasmania) and Longman (Queensland) are in the spotlight for many reasons, one of which is the pressures faced by essential workers residing within their margins. 


The cost of living, particularly around essential services such as petrol, groceries and rent, is forcing essential workers from retail, aged care, health care and early childhood education and care (ECEC) into deep financial stress, as shown in new research from the “Everybody’s Home” campaign group.


Workers in the marginal seats listed above have seen the portion of income spent on rent rise by between five and 13 per cent between February 2021 and February 2022.


In practice, that means that these critical workers on the Mornington Peninsula, in Launceston, Wollongong and the NSW south coast in North Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast are now living on between just $189 and $375 per week, depending on the sector, after paying rent.


Polling conducted in those seats by the Redbridge Group for Everybody’s Home found that 61 to 72 per cent of residents believed the federal government had not done enough to address housing affordability, indicating that issue could become a key determinant of the outcome of the election. 


National spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, Kate Colvin, said ECEC, supermarket and aged care workers were “being pushed to the brink of homelessness and poverty”.


“An ever-greater chunk of wages is going to rent and it’s pushing people in key jobs like aged care, child care and supermarkets to the brink of homelessness and poverty,” she said.


“People on modest incomes now have to fight tooth and nail to get a home and maintain it. It shouldn’t be this difficult to keep a roof over your head in a wealthy country like Australia.”


For more information about Everybody’s Home please see here