UnitingSA CEO Jenny Hall has become a member of South Australia’s first Housing Security for Older Women Taskforce established by Human Services Minister Nat Cook.
The 16-member taskforce, which comprises representatives from government, not-for-profit organisations, and universities, will now work together to find ways to improve housing security for women primarily aged 55 and over.
This age group remains the fastest growing demographic of Australians facing homelessness in the nation.
“The establishment of this Taskforce is an important step toward defining the causes of housing insecurity and finding real and impactful solutions,” Ms Hall said.
“This is an opportunity to influence changes that will improve the lives and future outcomes of the thousands of women facing these issues, today and into the future.”
Between 2006 and 2016, the number of older women experiencing homelessness jumped a massive 44 percent, climbing from 4,800 to 6,900.
Experts now say a further 240,000 women aged 55 or older are at risk, with the figures likely to worsen as Australia’s ageing population doubles in the next 30 years.
Lower lifetime incomes due to the gender pay gap, less access to superannuation, relationship breakdown, and a lack of financial assets due to informal child care responsibilities have left women in this age group particularly vulnerable, Ms Hall said.
“While we know housing insecurity is now an issue faced by thousands of South Australians, women in this age group are finding it harder than most,” she said.
“Single women are even more vulnerable, with less financial protection thanthose who may be sharing housing and living expenses with a partner.
“Women living with a disability, Aboriginal women and women from diverse cultures face even more barriers.
“The Taskforce will look at preventative and responsive approaches to improving housing security to turn the tide on these worrying statistics.”
The formation of the Taskforce is the result of a pledge by Labor in the lead up to the Federal Election earlier this year.
The next step will involve engaging a group of older women with lived experience of housing insecurity and homelessness. The women will be at the forefront of two workshops to be held in November and December to provide the Taskforce with first-hand information.
Three women with lived experience will then become permanent members of the Taskforce to provide ongoing insight.
Dr Alice Clark from Shelter SA has been appointed chair of the Taskforce.
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