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Commission seeks to reverse trend of older women ending up homeless

Graphic: Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson with the Attorney-General

Women aged 55 and over were the fastest growing cohort of homeless Australians between 2011 and 2016.

Older women are now the fastest growing cohort of homeless Australians, prompting Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson to release a report to raise awareness of the issue.

Older Women's Risk of Homelessness: Background Paper outlines the distinct housing issues facing women as they age and aims to encourage the development of solutions to reduce older women's risk of homelessness.

Older women - those aged 55 and over – were the fastest growing cohort of homeless Australians between 2011 and 2016, increasing by 31%.

"Limited services are available for older women who are renting, working and have modest savings. It is, therefore, likely this trend will continue given the ongoing shortage of affordable housing, the ageing population and cumulative economic disadvantage experienced by women," Dr Patterson said.

"The moment they are unable to work and pay their rent, they are likely to be homeless.

"I am focused on finding preventative solutions to assist this group of women," she said.

Older women's circumstances vary with respect to their assets, income and capacity to work. A range of solutions is needed to assist them to achieve housing security and sustain it through retirement.

Dr Patterson says engagement across sectors is required to develop practical solutions – from the property, finance and business sectors, through to governments, community housing and philanthropy.

Dr Patterson is working with the property and finance industries, government departments, housing organisations and others interested to encourage the development of innovative solutions to reduce older women's risk of homelessness.

Date: 4 April 2019

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson with the Attorney-General - Australian Human Rights Commission