BY PAULINE DELL, MANGROVE HOUSING
The forgotten women are not invisible, they are our mothers, our aunties, our grandmothers and our sisters. They are the fastest growing homeless population in Australia today.
People often ask me, “how did this happen?”
My first answer is superannuation.
There around 13 million females in Australia and two million of them are over the age of 64. Thirty-five per cent of those women, or 700,000, have zero super. And for those who have super, nearly half of them have less than $40,000 in super. Super wasn’t even compulsory until 1992.
My next answer is equal pay.
While equal pay was granted in 1969 we still have a gender pay gap of more than $16,000 each year.
That’s more than $600,000 over a work life from 18 to 55.
My next answer is the workforce participation.
Equal opportunity wasn’t enacted until the 1980s, and it has not been fully realised even today.
In 1960 women counted for less than 25% of the workforce.
My last answer is US.
- We are all standing here because of our mothers.
- Our mothers took time out of the workforce to have children.
- Our mothers often stayed home to raise children.
- Many of our mothers could only work part-time because their main job was keeping the family running.
Lack of super, unequal pay and gaps in working life compound to create financial hardship.
Add the current housing supply crisis and unaffordable rent and it is clear why this is our fastest growing homeless population. Like many women they do ask for help, many are couch surfing, others are living in their cars, others are going prematurely into aged care facilities
It seems amazing to me that my daughter is growing up in a world where so many of the rights she enjoys have been hard fought by the women that have come before her, yet we have forgotten about them.
The Forgotten Women project is trying to tip the scale back to level.
ABOUT THE FORGOTTEN WOMEN
Mangrove Housing is the founder of The Forgotten Women project, an initiative committed to providing homes to homeless women over 55 years of age – the fastest growing homeless population in Australia today.
There are more than 40,000 Queensland women over the age of 55 who are doing it tough – suffering financial hardship driven by rising costs, lack of employment, limited superannuation and a lack of affordable housing options. Across the Greater Brisbane area there are over 600 homeless women over 55.
Alarmingly this figure is predicted to more than double by 2036.
The Forgotten Women’s mission is to provide fit-for-purpose housing for homeless women over 55 with individually tailored support. Everyone deserves to live with dignity and age securely in place.