Information and advice for older women at risk of homelessness

Apr 07, 2022

It has been 115 years since women gained the right to vote in Queensland, 111 years since the introduction of aged pensions in Australia, 47 years since the equal pay decision, and 28 years of compulsory superannuation. Yet older women are facing homelessness in greater numbers than ever; unable to find secure and affordable housing in their older years.

While the rate of homelessness for older women is lower than for some other groups, the rate of growth in older women is a new and alarming phenomenon. Between the 2012 and 2016 Census periods the numbers of homeless women jumped by over 30%.

In Queensland, the 2016 census counted 10,000 women of all ages as homeless. For women in particular, the numbers reported in the Census are only the tip of the iceberg. Women in short-term or unaffordable housing are not included as homeless, nor are women who can afford housing now but know that if they lose their job, they will also be unable to pay their rent.

Women 55+ represent the fastest growing demographic in the homeless population and these statistics will only increase as our population ages.

Why are more older women facing homeless?

There is no one reason why more older women are finding themselves homeless. Rather, it's a multitude of factors, not limited to:

  • Women live longer and are more likely to be single in their older years
  • Women earn less and have more periods out of the workforce especially as unpaid carers of children, partners and parents
  • Women have lower levels of superannuation
  • Home ownership rates have been in slow decline in Australia since the early 1980s and more people are retiring than ever before with a mortgage
  • The same period has seen a slow decline in the level of social housing in Australia but a continuing growth in the demand for social housing
  • Unemployment for women in their 50s is especially impactful; eroding savings and confidence

Through education and information The Handy Guide can help empower women at all life stages to take control, seek help and join with other women. Learning, planning and doing are the key elements.

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