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Increase in demand for food help shows many Australians are feeling the pinch

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More people than ever are looking for help to keep food on the table according to the latest data from Ask Izzy, a mobile website that connects people in need to housing, meals, support and counselling and more.

In the last 12 months food has overtaken housing as the site’s most in-demand category, with more than 3.5 times the number of people searching for food services than this time last year.

The mobile site, which was developed by Infoxchange in partnership with Google, REA Group and News Corp Australia, has had more than 800 000 searches for help on the site since its launch in early 2016.

Ask Izzy key insights:

  • In the last 12 months:
    • Food has overtaken housing as the top category.
    • The average daily demand for food-related services has risen by 259 percent (3.5 times greater than the same time last year).
    • The average daily demand for housing has increased by 69 percent.
    • Other categories with the biggest daily average increases include money help by 163 percent and support and counselling by 119 percent.
  • Food now makes up 26 percent of all searches, while housing makes up 23 percent.
  • Some of the biggest users are those who identify as escaping family violence (17 percent), and being a family with children (16 percent), based on users within the housing category who chose to supply this information.
  • Most users are female (about 54 percent) and aged between 27 and 39 (about 35 percent of all users).

Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs says the huge increase in demand for food services on Ask Izzy provides a valuable insight into the pressures people are facing across the country.

“We originally developed Ask Izzy as a tool for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, anticipating that they would be our biggest users,” says David.

“But these latest shifts in service demand suggest that there are a lot of people out there who aren’t necessarily homeless but who still need help just to make ends meet.”

Merryn Auldist is a support worker at Healesville Indigenous Community Services Association (HICSA), which runs a weekly food bank that provides free groceries to people in need.

She says it’s a common misconception that only people who are sleeping rough or living in extreme poverty need access to free food, and that just about anyone can find themselves struggling to put food on the table due to issues such as family violence, redundancy or illness.

“You can have a three-bedroom house and a car in the garage and nobody knows that your cupboards are completely empty and you honestly don’t know where your next meal is coming from,” says Merryn.

She says there is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding around food banks and the people who use them.

“Many people expect to go in and find people who haven’t washed or who are perhaps suffering extreme mental health issues, but most of the people don’t look like that – most of the people (at a food bank) just look like you,” says Merryn.

The latest Ask Izzy data was presented today at a group panel discussion in Melbourne to mark two years since the site’s launch, featuring panellists including Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs, REA Group CEO Tracey Fellows, News Corp Australia Community Ambassador Penny Fowler and Google Australia Melbourne Site Lead Sean McDonell, as well as representatives from the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP).

Ask Izzy panel discussion group
Clockwise from top left: Google Australia Melbourne Site Lead Sean McDonnell, News Corp Australia Community Ambassador Penny Fowler, CHP Peer Education Support Program member John Kenney, REA Group CEO Tracey Fellows, Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs and CHP Peer Education Support Program member Jody Letts.

 

Supporting quotes from our partners

Tracey Fellows, REA Group CEO

“Right from the very beginning, Ask Izzy has been a fantastic example of how technology can help people facing very real issues like family violence and homelessness. Now two years in, the data insights mean we can really see where and when people need the most help and connect them to the services they need. We’re proud to be involved with such an important project that’s having real impact on people’s lives.”

Penny Fowler, Community Ambassador, News Corp Australia

"Ask Izzy is a game changer which has simplified access to information about a homelessness system that can be both complex and confusing. Two years ago, we began a unique partnership between corporate, community and not-for-profit organisation, using our combined strengths, to create a program that would be a single source of current information for those seeking locally relevant services.

"Ask Izzy has been a much-needed helping hand for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness and we are so proud to be a part of it."

Sean McDonell, Melbourne Site Lead, Google Australia

“Technology has the potential to transform how business, in this example non-profits, deliver services and affect social change - Ask Izzy is a great example of that.”

Ask Izzy data insights

  • In the last 12 months:
    • Food has overtaken housing as the top category.
    • The average daily demand for food-related services has risen by 259 percent (in other words, it is three and a half times what is was at the same time last year).
    • The average daily demand for housing has increased by 69 percent.
    • Other categories with the biggest daily average increases include money help by 163 percent and support and counselling by 119 percent.
  • Food now makes up 26 percent of all searches, while housing makes up 23 percent.
  • Queensland has the highest percentage of people searching for food at 32 percent.
  • The ACT has the highest percentage of people searching for housing at 29 percent.
  • Housing is the top term used by people searching within the site, followed by food.
  • Most users are female (about 54 percent) and aged between 27 and 39 (about 35 percent of all users).
  • Some of the biggest users are those who identify as escaping family violence (17 percent), and being a family with children (16 percent), based on users within the housing category who chose to supply this information.

Check out more data insights from the first two years of Ask Izzy

To keep up-to-date with the latest Ask Izzy stories, projects, events and upcoming launches, sign up to our Ask Izzy Updates quarterly enewsletter and follow us on Facebook.

Filed in: Media releases | Tagged as: Ask Izzy

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