Without meaningful intervention, the number of older homeless women will double

October 7, 2022

When Emma Dawson took to the stage at the National Gallery of Victoria to launch the latest report she authored on women and homelessness, A Home of One’s Own, she was both a woman on a mission and a woman – understandably – running short on patience.

As one of the speakers on the subsequent panel, the Managing Director of the Seven Advisory Mary Delahunty, would later say, “Emma has written about women and homelessness in every way, from every angle, in every font imaginable for years”.

And yet the number of older women experiencing homelessness is expected to double over the next decade, with little done to address the problem.

Emma Dawson is the Executive Director of the Per Capita think tank, and has spent years researching the issue. So when Australians Investing in Women, a leading non-profit advocating for “gender-wise” philanthropy was looking for someone to shed new light on this important issue at a critical time — and help spark a much-needed conversation about the role the private and philanthropic sector can play in addressing the crisis — they chose Dawson and Per Capita to produce a new report.

The report’s top-line finding was shocking: without meaningful intervention, the number of older homeless women will more than double by 2031 to more than 15,000. For years, it has been widely known that older women are the fastest-growing group of homeless people and the greatest cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence.

Those trends, according to the new report, are clearly accelerating, driven in no small part by the events of the pandemic, which disproportionately impacted women and their economic security, as many feared it would.

Sadly, while the report’s top-line finding was shocking, it was by no means surprising.

“After years of many of us warning that this would come to pass, here we are,” said Dawson with no small hint of bitterness and frustration.

Indeed, here we are.

I understand and share Dawson’s intense frustration. At the height of the pandemic, I received a grant from the Melbourne Press Club to write a dedicated series on women’s economic security for The Saturday Paper, and it was obvious to me right from the start that I couldn’t write about the economic impacts of the pandemic on women without dedicating significant attention to the issue of women’s homelessness.

Full article available here
Women’s Agenda, Kristine Ziwica, 7/10/22