Hidden Women puts an everyday face to housing stress amongst older women in Canberra

8 August 2018

YWCA Canberra has today launched a mini-documentary highlighting the experiences of older women who are homeless or in insecure housing in Canberra.

The launch of Hidden Women coincides with National Homelessness Week and puts an everyday face to older women who experience housing stress in our city.

Women who fall into homelessness or housing insecurity later in life are not a homogenous group and their circumstances are complex and varied. Older women are at particular risk of housing insecurity due to gender gaps in wages and superannuation and a disproportionate amount of time spent in unpaid caring roles.

These women now represent the fastest growing group of Australians experiencing housing stress and homelessness, with 2016 Census data indicating that the number of older women who were homeless had increased by 31 per cent from the 2011 Census.

CEO of YWCA Canberra Frances Crimmins said that Hidden Women showcases the stories of older women in a way that may surprise viewers.

“What I think all Canberrans will take away from Hidden Women is how familiar these women’s stories are”.

“These are women who have spent a lifetime caring for others and contributing to our economy, often earning lower wages and accumulating less superannuation than their male counterparts.

“But when they turn to traditional services for advice, in their later years, they often find they are not eligible for targeted assistance”.

YWCA Canberra has a history of providing housing support to Canberrans through its transitional housing, affordable housing and supportive tenancy services, and is grateful to the brave women who shared their stories.

Housing security is a key priority outlined in the YWCA Canberra’s Leading the Change report, which includes recommendations that YWCA Canberra believes will have the greatest impact on gender equality in the ACT.

While there has been a national focus on affordable and stable housing in recent years, the unique needs of older women are often left out of the conversation. For this reason, YWCA Canberra continues to call for a national action plan to address older women’s homelessness and housing insecurity.

Hidden Women was developed with the support of the ACT Government and launched in partnership with PwC Canberra.

Hidden Women will be launched on Wednesday 8 August at PwC’s Canberra office. YWCA Canberra is grateful to Rowdy Digital for producing Hidden Women. Award winning journalist Ginger Gorman will facilitate the event and expert panel discussion featuring Travis Gilbert from ACT Shelter; Penny Leemhuis from Older Women Lost to Housing (O.W.L’s); Alex Klat-Smith from PwC and Helen Dalley-Fisher from Equality Rights Alliance.

Media contact: Helen Machalias 0455 655 330

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