OLDER WOMEN - THE CHANGING FACE OF HOMELESSNESS
When we talk about someone being homeless there are probably stereotypical images that flash in people's minds, but the nearly 100 people, mainly women, who joined me in Windsor to discuss older women's homelessness know another reality. Women over 60 are among the most at-risk groups in our community. As part of national homelessness week, I thought it was time to shine a spotlight on this issue. I was joined by the shadow minister for homelessness, Senator Cameron, and Jenny Ranft from Wentworth Community Housing.
Domestic violence, marriage break-ups, gambling addiction, poverty and inequality can all contribute to homelessness. While homelessness affects all ages and genders, the number of women couch-surfing, in temporary accommodation, in overcrowded housing and sleeping in cars has almost doubled over the past four years, and it's probably undercounted.
The Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains, in my electorate, are not immune. The statistics are grim. The estimate of older women experiencing homelessness on the night of the 2016 census was 6,866. This was a 31 per cent increase from the 2011 figures and a significant jump in five years. There was also a big jump in the number of older women renting in the private rental market. In 2006 there were around 90,000 older women in private rentals. That had doubled by 2016.
Labor has a comprehensive suite of policies to combat homelessness and improve housing affordability, including reinstating a minister for housing and homelessness. I'm so proud that the community I represent cares about this issue and is willing to be part of the solution.