Over 130 people attended, Action on Homelessness: Older Women in Crisis, organised by the Soroptimist International clubs of The Hills and Hornsby on March 3.

MC Geraldine Doogue opened the forum and quoted the Hon Susan Ryan, former Age Discrimination Commissioner on the Australian Human Rights Commission, saying that poverty and homelessness in older women is one of the most serious policy issues ever faced in Australia.

Bev Baker, CEO of the Older Women’s Network, said older women experience casualisation in the workforce, job insecurity and poor pay in occupations filled mainly by women.

Annabelle Daniel, CEO of Women’s Community Shelters, spoke of the 37% increase in housing stress in Sydney between 2011 and 2016, and of the increase of 63% of older women accessing homelessness services in 5 years.

Alison O’Neill, Head of Housing at Link, said there was an urgent need to increase social and affordable housing, reduce the gender pay gap, and the need to make superannuation fairer to women.

She said 60% of Link’s tenants are women and 30% are aged over 55.

Over 130 people signed the Declaration at the Forum: This Forum calls upon the Federal, NSW and local governments to acknowledge that homelessness and poverty in women over 55 is a serious and rapidly growing problem

We call on Politicians to urgently address the gender pay gap and the inequality in superannuation. There must be a significant increase in the provision of social and affordable housing as less than 1% of private rentals in Sydney are affordable to people on very low incomes.

Organisers of the forum have been invited to talk to MPs at State Parliament

Hills Mayor Michelle Byrne spoke with organisers before the Forum at Rydges Norwest and Hornsby Mayor Philip Ruddock attended the forum.

Cathy Tracey from Soroptimist International of The Hills said:“S.I. The Hills are organising meetings with the Hills Mayor, relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers to highlight the issues facing older homeless women.

According to the Home in Western Sydney Report (April 2019) the Hills area has a need for 4,478 social and affordable dwellings by 2036. There was an unmet demand of 2,156 affordable and social dwellings in 2016 in The Hills.

“There is continued rapid development in the North West sector and our elected representatives, Local and State, need to act to meet the predicted demand for social and Affordable housing.“

Past president Janet Morgan from Hornsby SI said: “Members of Soroptimist International of Hornsby will be following up with Hornsby Council to advocate that more affordable social housing be provide by Developers in the fast developing Hornsby Shire, particularly for women over 55.”

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