Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
NT families struggling as prices soar

Northern Territory families are struggling as the cost of living skyrockets, social services groups say.

June 8, 2022

Families are struggling as inflation runs rampant in the Northern Territory, social services groups say.

The cost of living in the territory – the Consumer Price Index – jumped six per cent in the 12 months to December 2021, well above the national average of 3.5 per cent, the NT’s peak body for the social and community services sector said.

“Territorians are doing it tough,” NT Council of Social Service chief executive Deborah Di Natale said.

“We need the commonwealth and NT government to recognise these increases for critical services like health, childcare and education, and for living costs such as housing, transport and food.”

Darwin rents rose eight per cent compared to 0.4 per cent nationally in the same 12-month period, according to the council’s recently released annual cost of living report.

“That has an impact in the NT where about half of us are renters and the social housing waitlists are up to ten years long,” Ms Di Natale said.

Housing in Darwin – including utilities – also increased, up 15.9 per cent compared to four per cent nationally.

Darwin families were also hit at the petrol bowser, with automotive fuels rising 45.9 per cent compared with 32.3 per cent nationally.

The increases were even more severe for people in remote communities, where the price of diesel is up to $2.75 per litre, according to Fuel Price Australia.

Overall, it means Territorians living on low incomes or on income support payments are finding it tough to pay for everyday expenses.

“Significant cost of living pressures have emerged or intensified for Territorians, and at an unsustainable and disproportionate rate in certain areas,” Ms Di Natale said in the report.

“The implications of this for people’s physical and mental health, and ability to participate in the workforce and in society is well known. This reality is preventable and should not be accepted.”

The council called on the federal government to increase social security payments, such as Jobseeker and the Remote Area Allowance, twice yearly.

“We need leadership from the commonwealth and NT government on this, with a commitment to investment in affordable housing, including subsidised rental housing and targeted affordable home ownership programs,” Ms Di Natale said.

The council has also called on the NT government to extend concessions for electricity, driver’s licences, prescription glasses, vehicle registration and bus fares.

The NT has population of about 246,500 people. About 198,000 of those live in the Greater Darwin area.

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