Making Home in Homelessness Week 2020


Addressing homelessness is no small issue, and though there isn’t one definition of homelessness it is a term that describes people living in unfit, unsafe, severely overcrowded or uncertain spaces. This could mean sleeping rough on the streets, in a car, in an overcrowded household, or in temporary accommodation or in accommodation with no fixed tenure. It is essentially a living arrangement in which one of the core pillars of what constitutes a ‘home’ is missing. Of the 116,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia over 7,000 of those are older women.

In ‘Making Home – A Discussion on Women and Homelessness’ speakers Tania Davidge, Jane Gilmore, Jeanette Large, Merinda Dutton and Amanda Donohoe unpacked some of the unknowns around the topic of homelessness, how easy it is to happen, what makes older women the fastest growing cohorts of homelessness and also some of the ways that we can all help to support this. We also take a good look at how homelessness affects women of different backgrounds in different ways and how cultural differences create the need for various responses to homelessness, which is not yet something that is bureaucratically embraced.

As is it currently Homeless Week 2020 #HW2020, we feel this is an important conversation to bring to our tables, raise awareness on and also break the fourth wall and normalise this conversation so as to help prevent homelessness where possible. The recording of the event will be available on the Moral Fairground YouTube channel from August 14th, and until then we’ve popped 5 main takeaways from the event below!

  • A broken arm and 3 paychecks away from homelessness – The striking reality is that many Australians are this close to becoming homeless. 64% of people seeking homes are women and over 40% of those are escaping domestic violence. For most of these women, social housing may be their only hope of being able to be rehomed.
  • Directly supporting local social housing – As a rising number of women need access to safe housing solutions, there is a demand for social housing and associated services, its maintenance and development. Financially supporting social housing establishments is necessary for them to continue operating. Many social housing services would not be able to operate without the donations of the public.
  • Local Government – Contacting politicians and local government to express your support of social housing is essential as this is the main way that government become aware of this communal need and support of and for social housing. Just under 800,000 people are living in social housing across Australia, so it is clearly huge support and critical for the wellbeing of many Australian families.
  • Contesting the bureaucracies around social housing – People can be on waiting lists for housing from over ten years and there are many bureaucratic barriers to getting on the housing list, and then there are many issues surrounding the ability of a cohort to stay on the list such as not owning a mobile phone or having access to emails or post to stay in contact with social housing services. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, “waitlists for social housing remain long, with 189,400 households awaiting social housing allocation at 30 June 2017”. Reports also demonstrate that it costs considerably more to get someone out of homelessness than to prevent homelessness in the first place due to the amount of care and services that are required for this process. With this in mind, it is surely mentally, emotionally and financially more beneficial to all parties for those at risk of homelessness to receive support prior to the point of actual homelessness.
  • Changing Gender Inequalities – Changes against acts and norms that marginalise women and make them more susceptible to homelessness such as the average 14% pay gap and thus the superannuation gap of approximately $110,000 less than men at retirement. Older women are more likely to be pushed out of work and also unable to access social housing support.

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