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300000

Women between 45 and 65 at risk of homelessness when they retire, if not before.

51%

Increase in women aged between 65 and 74 presenting as homeless.

90000

The average difference between men and women's superannuation balances at retirement.

The issue

Older women are the single fastest-growing cohort of people experiencing homelessness in Australia, according to Census data.

There was a 51% increase in women aged 65-74 presenting as homeless between 2011 and 2016. Many of these women have not experienced homelessness before and are less likely to identify as homeless, so the scale of the problem could be even larger.

Our retirement system is based on the assumption that you own your home, have adequate superannuation and can access the aged pension – but for many people these assumptions no longer hold true.

SVA’s vision

SVA wants to see the women who have raised us, cared for us and our communities have a sense of security and well-being as they start to age. The most basic requirement of this is a secure, affordable home.

We want to work with government, in partnership with the private sector and community, to put in place policies that will significantly reduce the number of people, including older women, who will be at risk of homelessness.

We want these women to have a fair go and a fair chance at a happy and secure retirement.

This is what is required, and this is within our power as a modern, wealthy nation to provide.

The project explained - by those leading it

The solution

Increase the availability of appropriate and affordable housing

Rising housing prices have increasingly placed pressure on people with low incomes, people on pensions and people with little to no assets or superannuation behind them.

We will draw on our understanding of what’s required to incentivise institutional investment to advocate for a housing subsidy that meets the needs of older women at risk of homelessness. We’ll continue to invest in innovative housing models through our various impact investing funds.

Work to remove the formal, informal and systemic barriers to equality that women face

Many of the women who are at risk of becoming homelessness took significant time out of the workforce to raise children or care for family members.  We could put a value on their contributions, but we choose not to. We want to bring recognition to women’s contributions to society through unpaid work. The retirement income system should be reformed to provide dignity in retirement for both men and women.

Help women access appropriate support services

Many women we’ve spoken to who have experienced homelessness say they didn’t know where to turn for help. The system is opaque and difficult to engage with. Often it will be the first time these women need help from these services. There is a clear need for better information and support to navigate the service system.

Our priorities in FY20

  • Build a coalition of funders committed to redefining the system that takes these women for granted.
  • Advocate for a subsidy to incentivise private sector investment in housing that meets the needs of older women.
  • Develop the operating model and business plan to scale a tailored information and navigation service, based on the Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) program in Victoria
  • Early-stage work on the development of a Caring Index, as the basis for advocacy to support desired changes in a range of policies, including taxation, superannuation etc.
  • Research to identify the population, demographics and risk profiles of older women at risk of homelessness.

Seeking bold funding partners

SVA is seeking bold funding partners to join the Commonwealth Bank and The Jack Brockhoff Foundation to help us redefine the system that takes these women for granted.

Together we can give older women a fair chance at a happy and secure retirement.

To become involved

Kobi Maglen

Kobi Maglen

Director, Strategy & Advocacy, and Practice Lead, Housing

Supporting the implementation of SVA’s 2020 Strategy, Kobi manages the implementation of strategic initiatives...

Contact Kobi

Sustainable Development Goals

10 - Reduced Inequalities
5 - Gender Equality
3 - Good Health and Well-Being