Skip to main content

Older women and homelessness

Discrimination Age Discrimination
hand stopping bricks crush toy house

Older women are the fastest growing cohort of homeless Australians, prompting the Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson to today release a report to raise awareness and reverse the trend.

Older Women’s Risk of Homelessness: Background Paper details the distinct housing issues facing women as they age and aims to generate discussion and encourage the development of solutions to reduce women’s risk of homelessness as they age.

Older women—those aged 55 and over—was the fastest growing cohort of homeless Australians between 2011 and 2016, increasing by 31%.

“Limited services are available for older women who are renting, working and have modest savings. It is, therefore, likely this trend will continue given the ongoing shortage of affordable housing, the ageing population and cumulative economic disadvantage experienced by women,” said Dr Patterson.

"The moment they are unable to work and pay their rent, they are likely to be homeless.

"I am focusing on preventative solutions to assist this cohort of women,” she said.

Older women’s circumstances vary with respect to their assets, income and capacity to work. A range of solutions is needed to assist them to achieve housing security and sustain it through retirement. Dr Patterson says engagement across sectors is required to develop practical solutions—from property, finance and business, through to governments, community housing and philanthropy.

Dr Patterson is working with the property and finance industries, government departments, housing organisations and others interested to encourage the development of innovative solutions to reduce older women’s risk of homelessness.

The background paper is available here.