Homeless Women - How Did This Happen?
Published Apr 02, 2019
I read an article yesterday that told the story of an elderly woman who was battling illness but at the same time found herself in a dire financial situation.
She was unable to maintain rental payments on a home and found herself rotating between the lounges of one family member’s home to another in order to keep a roof over her head.
The thought of older women in our community battling to find the money for food and shelter is abhorrent. But recent investigations say it’s true – that there are increasing numbers of older women in our communities struggling to survive and fund the everyday.
These are often middle class, bright, family women who have found circumstances have left them in a very difficult position.
SO HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED?
According to Street Smart Australia, the largest growing group of homeless are women between the ages of 55 and 65.
It’s suspected that some of these women find themselves in the situation through their unique place in history. They worked before the days of Keating’s 1992 compulsory superannuation and they stopped work for twenty years to bring up their children.
These women were possibly separated or divorced from their spouse prior to current times of more equitable splits of property and portfolios.
They’re not old enough to receive the pension and have had years at home raising children so are seen to be less employable.
It sounds like a hellish place to be and I get a lump in my throat thinking about it.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Well firstly it means we need to keep an eye out for the people around us. We live in rural communities where we’re good at looking after our neighbours. The days of the slow cooked meal or a lasagne dropped in to someone having a rough patch are still alive where we live.
It also means asking if those around us need a hand – or dropping by for a cuppa and having a conversation about how things are going and whether they’re OK. If there are difficulties at hand the contacts at the bottom of this page that can help.
On a National front I believe there’s a standing point for a political review into suitable assistance to help these women. Women that have been caught in the gap between the 1950’s housewife and gender equality, recognition of the carer in the home and compulsory super.
CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?
Yes we can.
Gender equality and political history have played a cruel part in the difficulties some older women are facing.
Times are slowly changing. Thank goodness. But in the meantime I like to think my daughter will:
• Plan to have some money put aside for emergencies
• Add more than the 9.5 percent to her superannuation and get the tax benefits
• Always have an understanding and at least a 50/50 say in the household finances
• Plan for the financial goals in her life – years before they’re due to happen and get advice to make it possible
• Always know that her Dad’s got her back
For help contact:
Tamworth Women’s Refuge: 67632380
Armidale Women’s Homelessness Support Service (includes Armidale, Guyra, Uralla and Walcha): 02 6772 5352 or 1800 005 352 (toll free)