Superannuation savings taken out as part of the early release scheme went straight into the pockets of online gambling sites, according to bank transaction data seen by the Australian Financial Review.

According to reports, workers have “vaporised up to $10,000 on online gambling apps” after receiving a lump sum under the early access program.

The paper quoted one source as saying: “We saw someone take out the whole $10,000 amount on Thursday and by Monday they had none left. From their records, we could see they’d never been a gambler before.”

The early release scheme saw 1.5 million Australians apply to draw down superannuation.  It was hoped in would help the economy as well as family budgets.

Many had warned it might be used for the wrong reasons.

The news came as the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed one in eight Australians are struggling to repay their mortgages thanks to Covid-19.

While health worries are widespread, financial stress remained the main concern among households.

At least 13 per cent who lived in a home with a mortgage have reported that at least one or more people in their household had difficulty in paying the mortgage for their home or investment property.

One in twenty reported that one or more people in their household have involuntarily lost their jobs and one in twenty said that one or more people in their homes were not able to find a job.

The ABS survey of 1000 respondents on the effects of COVID-19 on households from early April to early May, found that one in five Australians had experienced one or more of the employment-related, housing or financial stress because of the pandemic.

Australians holed up at home because of the pandemic have also been hit by loneliness affecting more women than men.

With social distancing in place keeping family and friends apart, the mental and economic effects of the pandemic have taken a toll on households with 28 per cent of women more likely to feel lonely compared to 16 per cent of men.

Feeling lonely was the most cited source of tension but Australians are also worried about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

One in five said they were eating more snack foods such as lollies and chips compared to four weeksago.

About 14 per cent of households said they were consuming more alcohol, one in 10 said they were taking more vitamins and supplements and one in 14 Australians said they experienced relationship difficulties.

The majority of Australians (58 per cent) said they were spending more time in front of their television, computer, phone or other devices.

More than 40 per cent said they have taken up renovations and gardening during lockdown.

Almost 40 per cent said they were cooking or baking more while 29 per cent reported a drop in eating takeaway meals.

Loneliness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle were the two most frequently reported COVID-19-related personal stressors for both men and women, the survey found.

More women (13 per cent) had problems managing their health concerns and mental well-being than men (7 per cent).

“Around one in five people (19%) also reported that they were experiencing some difficulties maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which was more of a problem for those aged 18 to 64 years old (22%) than those aged 65 years and over (9%),” said Michelle Marquardt, ABS Program Manager for Household Surveys.

But 13 per cent of the 1000 respondents surveyed said they have increased their intake of fruits and vegetables.

Nearly half of employed Australians are working from home with more women (56 per cent) more likely to be working remotely than men (38 per cent).

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