Alarmingly, there are more than 116,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia on any given night. But one group in particular is facing increased risks and danger – older women.
Women aged 55 years and above are the fastest growing female group experiencing homelessness in Australia – a statistic which Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister describes as a “real worry”.
Why Older Women?
Divorce, family and domestic violence, relationship breakdown or losing a loved one are the most common reasons that older women may find themselves homeless – and a lack of housing is causing the trend to grow.
“First and foremost, if someone is homeless, they need safe and secure housing before they can do anything,” Sharon Callister said in an interview.
“People find themselves homeless because they don’t have the money [to pay the rent]. How can you possibly get a job if you can’t pay the rent? None of these things are possible without a safe and secure home.”
A National Approach is Needed
Mission Australia advocate for Australia to adopt a national plan to end homelessness, a nationally coordinated approach to tackle the growing problem. However, this is something which the government has yet to adopt.
“Without Federal Government support and them providing leadership on this important issue, things don’t work nearly as fast as they could be,” Sharon said.
“Without Federal Government support and them providing leadership on this important issue, things don’t work nearly as fast as they could be,” – Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister
Time to Take Action
During Homelessness Week, Sharon encouraged the community to “keep the pressure on” when it comes to Australia’s homelessness crisis.
“Advocate with your local members to ensure that the National Plan for Homelessness really gains traction,” she said. “It’s really about keeping the pressure on, saying that – in Australia today – it’s not acceptable to have so many people homeless.
“We need to do something as a whole community to prevent this.”
“It’s really about keeping the pressure on, saying that – in Australia today – it’s not acceptable to have so many people homeless,” – Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister
For more information and resources about homelessness, visit Mission Australia’s website.
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.
About the Author: Georgia Free is a broadcaster and writer from Sydney, Australia.