The number of homeless older women in Australia is increasing, according to the annual State of the Family report published by Anglicare Australia. This little-recognised phenomenon is linked to various social factors. The report urged immediate action to better support these women, many of whom are in an insecure housing situation for the first time in their lives.
Jeremy McAuliffe, general manager at Benetas, a Victorian-based not for profit aged care provider commented that most people would think of youth homelessness, or older men living on the street, but his organisation is seeing more and more the problem of homeless women. He added that we have got to broaden our understanding of this problem.
The reasons an older woman might find herself at risk of losing her home are complex, but many have played the traditional role of mother or carer, have not had long periods of employment, and this has an impact on superannuation and savings. A major exacerbating issue for homeless older women is the fact that often they never have had to face anything like this before: “They may never have had to seek support from the welfare and support services themselves. That lack of knowledge of support further complicates the issue.” McAuliffe encouraged the government to look at current ageing policy with a wider perspective.
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