A number of changes have been made to the Australian welfare system over the past two decades that have significant ramifications for household food security. Of greatest concern are changes made by the Australian Government that have resulted in payments such as Youth Allowance, Newstart and the Parenting Payment to fall below the poverty line (see Table 1). To compensate for low welfare payments, many Australians now rely on the private sector and on charities for food aid and other essentials to mitigate the impacts of austerity.
In this commentary, we discuss the hypothesis that food charity is an inexpensive policy alternative to ensuring an adequate standard of living for welfare‐reliant households. We conclude by predicting the significant public health ramifications of this approach.