This week is Anti-Poverty Week and the issue has perhaps never been more poignant than it is now.
A recent report by the Australian Council of Social Services and the University of NSW found roughly one in seven Australians are living below the poverty line, while a Foodbank study has revealed three in 10 Australians now experiencing food insecurity had not gone hungry before the pandemic.
The crisis has placed record demand on community support services as people remain out of work and in need of help.
NSW Hunter region's Survivors R Us, based in Cardiff, which provides food, furniture and other items to domestic violence survivors, unemployed people and the homeless, said before the pandemic, the service assisted about 150 people per week. That number has now risen to roughly 500.
"The lines are out on the street," founder Maria Martin said. "It seems to be just growing and growing.
"With the changes to JobSeeker and JobKeeper it's different clientele too. It seems to be everybody. All age groups, different jobs."
The Salvation Army's Moneycare financial counselling service has also experienced an uptick since the pandemic began. Newcastle Salvos financial counsellor Kristen Hartnett said a quarter of the cases Moneycare was currently dealing with were COVID-19 related.
"We're seeing a lot of young people, who tend to work more casually as well as asylum seekers and visa holders who aren't able to access the support from the government," she said.
"It is a slightly different cohort of people impacted than who we usually see."
Ms Hartnett said she urged people to make the Salvos their first call when they run into financial trouble, particularly as welfare payments continue to change.
"We want people to take early action," she said. "It can be very difficult to navigate the financial maze."
Someone who knows just how tricky that can be is Newcastle's Scott Futcher, who used payday loans when he had trouble paying bills.
"I thought that would be easier to keep me in front, but turns out it wasn't," he said. "It just spiralled."
A friend suggested Scott contact the Salvos, who put him onto Moneycare. They helped get the interest waived on some of Mr Futcher's repayments and worked out payment plans for others.
Mr Futcher said his improved financial position helped turn his life around.
"I was in a dark place," he said. "I didn't know if I wanted to be alive or not. Now I'm looking forward instead of back."
Moneycare is a free service. For more information, visit salvationarmy.org.au/about-us/our-services/moneycare/
Atwea College and Alesco Senior College are also taking part in activities this week under the Anti-Poverty theme 'Breaking the Cycle of Poverty through Education'.
To follow the activities for Anti-Poverty Week, visit facebook.com/atweacollege