Naomi Levingston split from her partner when she was 36 weeks pregnant.
Since then, money’s been tight.
“I am down to the dollar each fortnight, absolutely. I really have to budget,” she said.
It has been a relief to have one of her biggest regular expenses — nappies — provided to her free of charge through a local family support service.
“[It] takes a massive stress, a huge stress away knowing it’s there and I don’t have to struggle and space [the nappies] out,” said Ms Levingston.
Around 140,000 families across Australia can’t afford enough nappies to change their children as often as they need to.
It means parents often have to go without other essentials like food or medicines.
“I’ve heard stories of parents not putting children in nappies, letting them sit on T-shirts or other bits of clothing to try and save nappies,” said Sarah Witty, the chief executive of the Nappy Collective, a charity that collects and redistributes disposable nappies to support services.
The organisation has seen unprecedented demand this year.
“The increase in cost of living expenses, also the flooding in the east coast means people have walked away from their homes with nothing on their backs others than what they can carry.”
It has collected 780,000 disposable nappies from almost 500 collection points around Australia.
However, it’s not enough to meet the demand.
Unfortunately, cloth or reusable nappies also aren’t an option for most parents who need help.
Cloth nappies need to be washed regularly, requiring a significant investment of time and expense.
“If you can’t afford to buy nappies, you probably most likely don’t have a place to wash nappies,” said Ms Witty.
Providing nappies relieves financial stress
“It seems like just nappies, it’s so much more than that,” said Junelle Wilson, from family support service Olivia’s Place.
“It means if we can provide the nappies, they can go have spare money to get the food they they need or those essentials we can’t provide for them.”
“The knock-on effects of that is it relieves lots of other problems that come from having financial strain,” said Ms Wilson.
“Family violence is more prevalent when there is financial strain.”
For Naomi Levingston, it has meant she has been able to save a small amount of money.
“I’ve got that wiggle room, if anything comes up as emergences,” she said.
“If I drop a bottle of formula, I can get another tin. Or if he needs antibiotics, I’ve got that little extra to be able to get that.”
“It’s been an absolute life-saver.”
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